How are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines different for young children?

Both use the mRNA platform and are both considered safe and well-tolerated. Pediatricians CNN spoke with across the country suggest that either option is a good one.

Dr. said. Nina Alfieri, MD, a pediatrician at Ann and Robert H. Laurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. “I think both are really good options.”

Both appear to create as protective antibodies in young children as they do in adults. There are only slight differences and one may be more appropriate for some children than the other.

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is now licensed for children aged 6 months to 5 years. Pfizer is intended for children from 6 months to 4 years old.

The Pfizer vaccine is pre-licensed for children up to five years of age. The Moderna vaccine for people ages 6 to 17 was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and CDC’s vaccine advisors will vote this week on whether or not to recommend it.

Dosage size and schedule

A child who gets the Moderna vaccine won’t have to go to the doctor or pharmacy as often, and will get protection a little faster than the Pfizer vaccine.

Moderna Complete Series two doses of 25 mcg given each month separately. Children with weakened immune systems will get a third dose. A Moderna shot for toddlers is a quarter of the size that adults get.

With Pfizer, it takes three shots for the series to complete. The company initially tried two doses, but trial data showed that after the second dose, the vaccine did not generate an adequate immune response. The three-dose vaccine allowed last week is one-tenth of the adult dose size from Pfizer.

With Pfizer, the first two doses are given for three weeks. The third may be given at least eight weeks after the second. In total, it may take up to three months for a child to get the full streak.

In the future, scientists may want children to get boosters with either company’s vaccine.


Children were more likely to have a fever with the Moderna vaccine. That happened with about a quarter of the trial participants, versus less than 10% with Pfizer. Most of the fever was mild. Less than 1% of all trial participants had a fever of 104 degrees.

Dr. said. Grant Paulsen, the on-site principal investigator for clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna Covid-19 for children ages 6 months to 11 years in Cincinnati Children’s.
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“Odds are most of the kids will be fine and actually have a few problems,” he said. “The majority will not have significant side effects.”

Moderna said other illnesses that cause fevers were prevalent during the trial, and that may have led to some of those fevers, because 10.6% of the children in the placebo group of the trial who didn’t get the vaccine reported a fever.

Dr. Claudia Huen, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UH Rainbow Babies Hospitals in Cleveland, said she understands why parents hate seeing their children develop a fever, but they should be reassured that fevers do not cause any kind of permanent damage or long-term problems and should resolve quickly on their own. or in response to over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Motrin.

“I think if you continue That’s in mind and I realize that, yes, it’s scary, but it’s manageable,” Huen said. “People should work with their pediatrician. I think a lot of children who have had the first dose may or may not have a fever, but people should work with their pediatrician if they do and come up with a good plan and that would be the best thing to do.” It must be resolved quickly.”

General side effects

Safety data from Moderna and Pfizer, which has been vetted by the FDA and CDC, found that potential side effects were mostly mild and short-lived.

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The most common side effects of both include pain at the injection site, and sometimes swelling or redness.

In terms of systemic or body-wide symptoms, the most common were fatigue or drowsiness. Some children had irritability or distress, loss of appetite, headache, abdominal pain or discomfort, swollen lymph nodes, and mild diarrhea or vomiting. But everyone improved quickly.

“It’s very similar to the side effects that we’ve seen for older kids or adults. About 24 hours some kids, you know, don’t feel that well, they feel tired, they don’t have the same appetite, but thankfully they haven’t seen any serious side effects from these vaccines” . Ashish Jha, the White House’s Covid-19 response coordinator, said on CBS Monday.

Scientists did not see any serious or rare side effects in the trials. They were watching closely for any signs that the children had myocarditis, and myocarditis, because there are quite a few cases among older children and adults. But myocarditis has not been identified in trials in young children.

Vaccine efficacy

Both vaccines were tested when the variant Omicron was the dominant strain of coronavirus. Studies show that regardless of age or dose level, this particular variant was more successful at evading the protection offered by either company’s vaccine.

The Omicron variant was challenging for this age group in general. Without access to a vaccine, hospitalization rates among children 5 and younger were five times higher during Omicron’s peak in winter, compared to when the delta variant was the dominant strain last summer, according to a March report from the CDC.

Moderna has been estimated to be 36.8% effective against symptomatic illness in children aged 2 to 5 years and 50.6% for preventing symptomatic disease in those 6 to 23 months of age.

For the Pfizer vaccine, there were only 10 cases of Covid in the vaccinated and placebo group in the trial – a number too small to estimate the vaccine’s efficacy. However, key efficacy data from initial results are “encouraging,” according to the company. The FDA said the immune response to the vaccine from 6 to 23 months of age and 2 to 4 years of age was similar to that of older participants, but more research will be needed.

Conclusion: Get vaccinated

Get the vaccine available, experts said.

“I don’t think one is clearly better than the other,” Paulsen said. “They are different.” “It’s very much what parents prefer. Balance those differences as well as, frankly, what’s available and what the pediatrician or what the local hospital has.”

Doctors also suggest searching online or calling to see what the local site has to offer. Not every site will offer both pickups. Some vaccine clinics also may not offer vaccinations for young children or may have restrictions on the ages they serve. For example, CVS stores that have MinuteClinics will vaccinate this new age group, but only if the child is 18 months or older. may be helpful. The website provides some information about clinics listed by category.

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