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The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 is available free of charge to children ages 5 to 11.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Philadelphia has made the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine available for children ages 5 to 11 after the United States Food and Drug Administration authorized it for emergency use.

On Nov. 3, the City of Philadelphia announced that the Health Department is working with vaccine providers to get children vaccinated in the same facilities as adults. The vaccine will be available at any city-run community clinic, as well as most pharmacies, pediatricians' offices, and health centers free of charge.

The vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the FDA on Oct. 29 and endorsed by the CDC on Nov. 2 for use in children ages 5 to 11. 

According to the FDA, the vaccine is administered in a two-dose series three weeks apart, but at a lower dose of 10 micrograms compared to the 30 micrograms for children 12 years old or older. In order to avoid mix-ups with the adult doses, the children’s doses of the vaccine will be packaged in smaller vials and administered using shorter needles. 

The FDA found that the vaccine was 90.7% effective against COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11. Children generated a comparable immune response to individuals 16 to 25 years of age. No serious side effects were found after studying the vaccine’s effects on 3,100 children in the age group.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll published on Oct. 28 reported that three in 10 parents say that they definitely will not give their 5- to 11-year-old child the vaccine. About the same proportion said they would immunize their children as soon as the children’s vaccine was authorized by the FDA, and a third of parents said they wanted to wait to see how the vaccine was working before getting their child vaccinated. 

At Penn, 96% of all students and 97% of faculty and staff are fully vaccinated