COVID-19 vaccine: Children aged 5 to 11 – Ministry of Health


Tamariki aged 5 to 11 are eligible for two paediatric (child) doses of the Pfizer vaccine 8 weeks apart. They are not eligible for a booster.
Last updated: 6 April 2022
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Tamariki aged 5 to 11 can be protected against COVID-19 with two paediatric (child) doses of the Pfizer vaccine at least 8 weeks apart.
The child formulation of the Pfizer vaccine is a lower dose and smaller volume compared to the adult formulation. The vaccine is administered with a smaller needle.
Children are not eligible for AstraZeneca or booster vaccinations.
Protecting tamariki aged 5 to 11 from COVID-19 (PDF, 646 KB)
The trials in 5 to 11-year-olds with a paediatric Pfizer vaccine showed it was safe and side effects were generally mild.
Medsafe is responsible for approving the use of all medicines and vaccines in New Zealand. They only approve a vaccine in Aotearoa once they are satisfied it has met strict standards for safety, efficacy, and quality.
The paediatric Pfizer vaccine is highly effective. That means if immunised children do develop COVID-19, they’re far less likely to fall seriously ill and less likely to transmit the virus to others.
For children aged 5 to 11, clinical trial results showed the Pfizer vaccine was 90.7% effective against getting COVID-19 symptoms, and no participants developed severe COVID-19.
COVID-19 generally has mild effects in children and is rarely severe or fatal.
Children and who have COVID-19 will commonly have no symptoms or only mild respiratory symptoms – similar to a cold. However, some can become very sick and require hospitalisation. Rare complications can include Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) that may require intensive care. Children can also suffer long-term side effects (known as long COVID), even after mild cases of COVID-19.
Like adults, if your tamariki are infected with COVID-19 they may transmit the virus to other people. Immunising tamariki helps protect whānau members whose health makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19.
The term ‘long COVID’ (otherwise called post-COVID conditions) is commonly used to describe signs and symptoms that continue or develop after acute COVID-19 (4 weeks from the initial infection).
Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as ‘brain fog’), headache, anosmia (loss of smell), and sore throat. Young children may have trouble describing the problems they are experiencing.
Persistent symptoms have been reported following COVID-19, though long COVID is less common in children. Studies have reported long-term symptoms in children with both mild and severe acute COVID-19, including children who previously had Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C).
I think there’s four good reasons why all tamariki should be immunised.
The first is to protect them. COVID-19 is generally a mild or even asymptomatic illness in children but really it can cause children to become seriously unwell, need to go to hospital, or even in rare circumstances need to go to intensive care.
It will also help protect them from rarer complications of COVID-19 such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) which happens in approximately one in 3000 children, and persisting symptoms like long COVID-19 which happens to a much smaller proportion of children than in adults but it’s still something which I think a lot of parents would like to consider.
To protect the child themselves, that’s the first reason, the second reason of course is to protect the whole household, and to protect grandparents so we’re protecting our whānau.
The third reason is to protect our community. There are some children in our community who are at higher risk of serious illness than other children and it’s important to take care of them.
So by being vaccinated we can protect our friends.
And the fourth reason is to help keep schools open. If we can reduce the overall burden of COVID-19 in the community we have the best shot of keeping our schools open.
Dr Jin Russell, Consultant Developmental Paediatrician at Starship Children’s Hospital, explains the four main benefits of immunising children.
I think you should consider getting your children immunised.
I’m not going to tell you what to do today, but we are going to have a kōrero to work out if this is the right thing to do for your tamariki and your whānau.
What I’m going to suggest to you is that this is the right thing for you to do, but I would really like you to tell me all of the concerns that you have.
If I was going to discuss with you why I think this is the best thing for you to do.
Your tamariki exist in your whānau, they are part of your whānau. Unfortunately they can pass the virus onto everyone in your whānau.
We recommend that your tamariki have this vaccine because it provides a web of protection both for them, both for you, for your whānau, for their mates, for their school, and for everyone.
So that we can stop some of the things that we are seeing in the Māori community. Unfortunately Māori have suffered the worst effects of COVID-19 due to a number of reasons through no fault of their own.
So if we can get tamariki immunised it will increase the overall numbers of immunisations in Māori communities to protect whānau and Māori communities moving forward.
Dr Owen Sinclair, Paediatrician at Waitakere Hospital explains how immunising tamariki against COVID-19 provides a web of protection for them, your whānau, their mates, and their school.
When we look at what is COVID-19 like for children, for a lot of children it can be mild, but it can also be really severe.
Even if children have an illness, and get better, there are still quite a number of children that will get ongoing symptoms which we call long COVID-19 after their illness.
So I think that that’s something that we need to keep in mind, it’s not just about one illness.
There are some rarer more serious things that can happen when you get COVID-19, and so I think that we need to be real about what COVID-19 looks like as an illness.
In terms of the side effects of the vaccination, because that’s what you’re weighing up, what does it look like to get COVID-19 – versus what it’s like to get the vaccination.
The side effects on the whole are mild, they happen in the first couple of days, they’re around the local effects on your arm, so a bit sore maybe an achy body.
The more serious side effects like a severe allergy are very very rare.
I think aside from the symptoms and the illness of COVID-19, it’s also the disruption that having COVID-19 brings.
Tamariki in Auckland have missed out on three months of in-person school, and so if our children get COVID-19, and they’ve been to school, that’s going to affect the other children either by passing the COVID-19 on to them, but also by closing down their class because they’ll become close contacts and need to stay at home.
If we’re doing that continuously it really does disrupt our learning our ability to do our own work because not all of us have the option to work from home.
So the more our children can be protected and stay at school because they’re immunised the better.
Dr Lily Fraser (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe, Waitaha, GP and clinical director of Turuki Healthcare) explains that for a lot of children, COVID-19 can be mild, but it can also be really severe.
Transcipt not available for this live stream
Hosted by Mihingarangi Forbes, watch a live stream about COVID-19 immunisation for 5 to 11-year-olds, featuring a panel of wāhine including paediatricians Dr Jin Russell and Dr Teuila Percival with Dr Hinemoa Elder and Dr Lily Fraser.
The safety and efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine in 5 to 11-year-olds was first evaluated through clinical trials.
In the trial, participants were randomised to either receive two doses of the vaccine 21 days apart, or a placebo. 1,517 children received the vaccine, and 751 children received the placebo.
Real-world safety data is emerging quickly as the international rollout continues, and the Ministry and Medsafe are monitoring this closely as it emerges.
This vaccine has been provisionally approved or authorised and is being rolled out across the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia.
It’s recommended to wait 3 months after a positive COVID-19 result, before getting any COVID-19 vaccination.
The 3-month interval should only be shortened for 5-17-year-olds in exceptional circumstances and should be assessed by a GP or specialist.  
Children and young adults have a good immune response to vaccines, and there is less data available on providing COVID-19 vaccines to children and adolescents less than 3 months after infection with COVID-19. 
The time between doses can be shortened to a minimum of 21 days if needed, for example if the child is starting significant immunosuppression treatment. You will need to discuss this with the child’s doctor.
If a child has their second vaccination after they have turned 12, they should still complete their vaccination course with the child dose of the Pfizer vaccine. They won’t be given the adult Pfizer vaccine.
No. Tamariki aged 5 to 11 are not eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Current research does not support booster doses for children aged 5-11 years old. Children’s immune systems are different from adult immune systems. Children under 12 produce an appropriately strong immune response with two doses of the child (paediatric) vaccine. 
The weight or body mass of the child is not related to the immune response. The maturity of the immune system is what matters, which depends on the age of the child. Children’s immune systems are different from adult immune systems. Children under 12 produce an appropriately strong immune response with two doses of the child (paediatric) vaccine.  
The side effects of vaccination in children are similar to those seen in adults. These side effects are generally mild and should only last 1 or 2 days.
The most common side effects are:
After vaccination they will need to stay for at least 15 minutes so that a health professional can monitor for any immediate adverse reactions.
If they feel unwell, get them to rest and drink plenty of fluids. They should avoid vigorous exercise, like running around or swimming. Paracetamol can be taken (following instructions on packaging, or as given by your doctor or pharmacist) after vaccination to help to relieve fever or pain.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis is inflammation of the tissue forming a sac around the heart. Both can be mild or serious. They are usually caused by viruses, such as COVID-19, but are also very rare side effects of the Pfizer vaccine, especially in adolescents and young males.
Myocarditis and pericarditis weren’t identified as side effects of the Pfizer vaccine in the 5- to 11-year-old age group in trials, however it is important to be aware of the symptoms for all ages who are vaccinated.
Symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis linked to the Pfizer vaccine generally appear within a few days, and mostly within the first few weeks after having the vaccine. If anyone gets these symptoms after vaccination, you should seek medical help, especially if these symptoms don’t go away:
If the child experiences any of these symptoms in the days or weeks after the vaccine, they should see a doctor – there will be no charge for the consultation. You can also call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 anytime to get advice.
If you have an immediate concern about their health, call 111, and make sure you tell them they’ve had a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.
As with all medicines, there is a risk of an allergic response after this vaccine. This is why everyone is asked to wait for at least 15 minutes.
Pfizer is safe for people with food allergies. Unlike some other vaccines, there is no food, gelatin or latex in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and it is not grown in eggs.
The only reason that someone may not be able to have this vaccine due to allergy is if they have had a severe allergic response (anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of the Pfizer vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine.
If a child has a history of an immediate allergic reaction to other products, including food, medicines or other vaccines, they can still have this vaccine but are asked to stay a little longer (at least 30 minutes) for monitoring. Vaccinators are trained to recognise these symptoms and have the appropriate equipment to treat people on site.
The Pfizer vaccine does not contain:
Yes, it is okay to get several vaccines at the same time. Some immunisation clinics may also offer other childhood immunisations such as the MMR vaccine.  
There is no requirement (vaccine mandate) for tamariki to be immunised. It is completely up to the parents or caregivers to decide if they want their children immunised. 
Children under 12 years and 3 months do not need a My Vaccine Pass and can’t get one. 
From 11:59pm on Monday April 4, all My Vaccine Pass requirements will be removed.
Children aged 5 to 11 are able to get an International Travel Vaccination Certificate through My Covid Record. A parent or caregiver needs to request this using their own account.
Once you’re logged in, click ‘Request a pass or certificate’ and follow the steps. You will need the child’s NHI number. 
If you have another question, you can call 0800 28 29 26 from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week. The team will be able to chat through your concerns and, if needed, can refer you to a medical professional.
The team is made up of people who have experience of a disability themselves, or who have worked with the disabled community.
They can answer any questions about:
The disability team is available Monday to Friday, from 8am to 8pm.
Kia ora koutou, ko Eric Andersen toku ingoa. I’m Eric Andersen I’m one of the Paediatric Neurologists working here at Wellington hospital.
You can’t consider a child without larger society, so why we need to protect tamariki Māori particularly is because for people under the  age of 11, we make up 25% to 30% of the population. Because we tend to live in multi-generational houses with our whānau with our grandparents and things. I think it’s a really important thing that we do everything that we can to support Māori whānau to get their kids vaccinated particularly.
It’s the same vaccine, it’s the same components, so that it’s just one third of the dose and in the same way to mount as good a response as they possibly can to protect them as best we can.
It’s best for them to have two doses, we really want kids not to get this illness at all and so getting two doses is going to be important.
So, definitely the vaccine is safe for kids who’ve got asthma. Kids with asthma who get COVID-19 are six more times likely to be admitted to hospital than kids who get COVID-19 who don’t have asthma, but in general hay fever, nut allergies wouldn’t be something that would stop you from getting the vaccine.
I’ve been vaccinated, my wife’s been vaccinated. Our nine-year-old, when the vaccine becomes available, she’s keen to get vaccinated as well and we definitely want to support her with that and support everyone to get this done.
Not every vaccination site stocks the paediatric Pfizer vaccine, but there are lots of ways to find a site convenient for you:
A responsible adult needs to accompany the child to their appointment(s). This may be a parent, an adult family member, trusted family friend, legal power of attorney, or whanaungatanga carer.
Consent for vaccination needs to be given by a legal guardian of the child.
If the adult who accompanies the child to the appointment is not the child’s legal guardian:
This is standard consenting process.
Prior to their vaccination appointment:
If they’re a little nervous, they’re welcome to take something to the appointment that will distract them, like a soft toy, phone or some music.
Tips to prepare for your COVID-19 vaccine appointment – IMAC
Getting your COVID-19 vaccine: What if I don’t like needles? – IMAC
How to talk to children about vaccination – Unite against COVID-19
Page last updated: 06 April 2022

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