COVID-19 vaccine side effects rare in children ages 5-11, CDC says

New data from the CDC suggests that 98% of vaccine-related side effects experienced by children ages 5 to 11 years are "not serious." File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
1 of 4 | New data from the CDC suggests that 98% of vaccine-related side effects experienced by children ages 5 to 11 years are "not serious." File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Well under 1% of children ages 5 to 11 years given the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine experienced side effects, according to data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 4,249 cases of vaccine-related side effects reported to the agency during the first seven weeks since the shot was cleared for use in this age group, the agency said.


Of these, 4,149, or 98%, were considered "not serious," and the most common of these included vomiting, which accounted for 8% of those reported, and fever, which made up 7%.

In addition, headaches accounted for just over 6% of the non-serious side effects reported as did syncope, or fainting, the CDC said.

There were, however, 11 cases of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, reported among the 8.7 million doses administered between Nov. 3 and Dec. 19, the data showed.

The findings are similar to those seen in clinical trials of the vaccine conducted by the manufacturer, according to the agency.

The findings in the report are "no surprise [as] the vaccine was safe in trials and safe in post-marketing data," Dr. Danny Benjamin, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, told UPI in an email.


The complications associated with COVID-19, even for young children, "certainly" outweigh any risks associated with the vaccine, even "any serious, impactful, adverse event," said Benjamin, a professor of pediatrics at Duke University who was not part of the CDC analysis.

He added that he recommends the vaccine for his young patients.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in children ages 5 to 11 years on Oct. 29.

Through Monday, about 14% of children in this age group nationally were "fully vaccinated," meaning they had received both doses of the vaccine, according to the CDC.

Vaccine reactions are slightly more common following receipt of the second dose, with injection-site pain reported by 56% of children receiving it, the agency said.

Fatigue, reported by 26%, as well as headache, reported by 20%, and fever, reported by 13%, are other common side effects in this age group.

Seven percent of the children included in the analysis said they were "unable to perform normal daily activities" following receipt of the second dose due to vaccine side effects, and 10% indicated they "unable to attend school" afterward.

Of the 100 serious side effects reported, 29 involved fever and 21 included vomiting.


Ten of the vaccine recipients in this age group reported experiencing seizures, though several of these cases actually may have suffered syncope, or fainting.

All 11 children who had cases of myocarditis recovered fully, according to the CDC.

"Myocarditis is a rare and serious adverse event that has been associated with [the] ... COVID-19 vaccines," particularly among those ages 12 to 29 years, the agency researchers wrote.

"To date, myocarditis among children aged 5 to 11 years appears rare," they said.

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