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General Practice 2023

COVID-19 vaccine in childrenças: when to take it, doses and side effects

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COVID-19 vaccine in childrenças: when to take it, doses and side effects
COVID-19 vaccine in childrenças: when to take it, doses and side effects

The COVID-19 vaccine is indicated for all children over 5 years of age, both in Brazil and Portugal. In most cases, between 5 and 11 years of age, a pediatric version should be administered, while for children and adolescents over 12 years of age, the vaccine to be administered should be the same as for adults.

Vaccination against COVID-19 in children helps not only to protect against infection by the coronavirus, but especially to reduce the risk of developing the severe form of the disease, which may require hospitalization and even put life at risk.

Like any other vaccine, the COVID-19 vaccine in children can cause some side effects, especially at the injection site, which can be painful, swollen and red. In addition, other reactions such as fever and tiredness are also common, but tend to be transient and disappear with some care.


Approved vaccine types

In Brazil there are two vaccines approved for the vaccination of children:

  • Pfizer vaccine (adult and pediatric versions);
  • Coronavac.

In Portugal, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved, and can be administered in its adult or pediatric version, depending on the age of the child.

When to get the vaccine

Vaccination against COVID-19 in children is approved from the age of 5. In both Brazil and Portugal, the Pfizer vaccine can be administered in its pediatric version to children between 5 and 11 years of age, while the adult version must be administered to children and adolescents over 12 years of age.

In addition, in Brazil, there is also the Coronavac vaccine, which is recommended for children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years old who have comorbidities, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, that increase the risk of serious illness by COVID-19. 19. This vaccine should not be given to immunosuppressed children.

How many doses should be given

All vaccines approved for administration to children include a two-dose primary vaccination schedule. Depending on the country, and the vaccine to be administered, the interval time varies:


  • Pfizer (pediatric or adult version): 8 weeks;
  • Coronavac: 28 days.


  • Pfizer (pediatric version): 6 to 8 weeks;
  • Pfizer (adults version): 21 to 28 days.

Difference between pediatric and adult version

The main difference between the pediatric version of a vaccine and its adult version is in the amount of immunizer administered. For example, in the case of the Pfizer vaccine, the difference in immunizing agent is 10 micrograms in the pediatric version, to 30 micrograms in the adult version.

Furthermore, other technical details, such as storage time or vaccine packaging, may also vary from one version to another.

Possible side effects

As with any other vaccine, and similar to what happens with vaccination in adults, the COVID-19 vaccine in children can lead to the emergence of some side effects. The most common include:

  • Pain, swelling and/or redness at the injection site;
  • Headache, fever and/or chills;
  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting;
  • Tired and unwilling to play.

These reactions usually appear within the first 24 hours after administration of the vaccine and disappear within 2 or 3 days. In the case of injection site reactions, they can be relieved by applying a cold compress for 10 to 15 minutes at the site, 3 to 4 times a day, in the case of symptoms such as fever, headache or tiredness, it is indicated. rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Although they can be an uncomfortable effect, most reactions do not need any specific medical treatment. Even so, if the symptoms are very intense and to make the child feel better, some medicines can be used, with pediatrician guidance, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. See more about alleviating common COVID-19 vaccine reactions.

Severe reactions to vaccination

The development of serious reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine in children is very rare, however, symptoms of a severe allergic reaction such as redness and itching of the skin, swelling of the face and/or feeling short of breath may develop. Severe allergy reactions are most common in the first 30 minutes after vaccination, so it is advised to stay at the vaccination center for that time. Still, if these symptoms appear at home, you should call for medical help or take the child quickly to the hospital.

One of the main concerns with vaccinating children against COVID-19 is the possible appearance of heart problems, such as myocarditis or pericarditis. However, in a report released by the CDC [1] on the Pfizer vaccine, this effect appears to be extremely rare, having been identified in only 11 cases, who recovered after treatment.

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