Which vaccine is best for little kids?

Families/Kids Vaccines

Two vaccines were authorized for children in the 6 months-5 years age group on the same day, leaving many parents wondering which is best. Each has its pros and cons.

The bottom line: if low side effects is your priority and you don’t mind three visits to the clinic over the course of three months, the Pfizer vaccine might be a better choice for your little ones. If you’d rather have just two appointments, be done in 4 weeks, and take a bit more of a chance of side effects, Moderna is the better choice.

Amongst our own team at Those Nerdy Girls, there are lots of opinions on which is better and why. Both are good! Both vaccines passed the safety checks with flying colors and produced good immune response.

We drew on the always-reliable Stat News authors Helen Branswell and Matthew Herper’s very helpful rundown for this post, and we’re linking their video here.

🌟 Pfizer 🌟

Pfizer’s vaccine is available for kids ages 6 months through 4 years. It requires three doses which each contain just 3 micrograms of active ingredient. The second dose is given at 3 weeks, and the third at 8 weeks. The third dose is important, too–there was almost no immune response detectable after the first two doses. Also, due to the time since the study was completed, we don’t have a real estimate of overall efficacy for this vaccine. But it’s likely to be about the same as Moderna’s, based on how the study participants’ immune systems reacted. The Pfizer vaccine had a very low rate of side effects like fever, upset stomach, sore arm.

Pros: Very few side effects.
Cons: Three appointments/three shots; less clarity about effectiveness

🌟 Moderna 🌟

Moderna’s vaccine is available for kids ages 6 months through 5 years. It requires just two doses which contain 25 micrograms of active ingredient. The second dose is given four weeks after the first one. Moderna was able to show vaccine efficacy of about 50% during the omicron wave in this age group. The Moderna vaccine’s rates of side effects such as fever, upset stomach, and soreness were slightly higher. However, there was no question about safety.

Pros: Just two appointments; faster time to effectiveness.
Cons: Higher chance of side effects such as fever.

BOTH vaccines are based on mRNA technology. BOTH were demonstrated to be safe in this age group. BOTH are recommended for kids who already had COVID-19 and those who did not. BOTH vaccines WILL very likely need boosters at about 5-6 months from the last dose.

Check out the Stat News article for a full report! And let us know what specific questions you still have in the question box on our website.

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