Coronavirus vaccination for children aged 5 to 11
Children aged 5 to 11 can get vaccinated against coronavirus. This applies to both children in medically at-risk groups and other children. You decide whether you want your child to be vaccinated.
Children not in a medically at-risk group
From 18 January 2022 children who are not in a medically at-risk group will receive an information letter from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) about getting vaccinated against coronavirus. You decide whether you want your child to be vaccinated. If you want your child to be vaccinated, call the municipal health service (GGD) on 0800-7070 to make an appointment. You should always go to the appointment with your child .
Children in medically at-risk groups
Children with certain medical conditions, like lung diseases, a heart condition or a weak immune system, are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. These children can also get vaccinated. If your child is medically at-risk, you will have received an invitation letter from your child’s paediatrician in mid-December 2021. You should always go to the vaccination appointment with your child.
- Read the advisory opinion of the Health Council of the Netherlands on vaccinating children in medically at-risk groups (in Dutch only).
Children receive 1 or 2 doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine
Children aged 5 to 11 get 1 or 2 doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, which has been adapted for children. It contains a smaller amount of the active ingredient than the dose for people aged 12 and over. The European Medicines Agency has approved the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine for younger children.
Children aged 5 to 11 get 2 doses of the coronavirus vaccine if they:
- have not had coronavirus before and are not in a medically at-risk group. They get the second dose 8 weeks after the first; OR
- are in a medically at-risk group. They get the second dose 4 weeks after the first.
Children aged 5 to 11 who are not medically at-risk need only 1 dose of the coronavirus vaccine if they have previously had coronavirus. In this case 1 dose gives them enough protection. These children should not get the vaccination until at least 3 months after they tested positive for coronavirus. The Health Council of the Netherlands says that children who have had coronavirus are sufficiently protected against serious illness from COVID-19 and against Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) without needing to be vaccinated.
Other vaccinations in the same period
It is safe to get different vaccinations in a short space of time such as the HPV, MMR or DTP vaccinations. You don't have to wait anymore to schedule a different vaccination.
Side effects usually mild and short-lasting
Children can get side effects after the coronavirus vaccination but these effects are usually mild and only last a few days. The most common side effects are:
- soreness at the injection site
- redness at the injection site
- muscle ache
An allergic reaction to the vaccine is very rare, especially in children. An allergic reaction usually develops within 15 minutes. That is why you and your child should stay at the vaccination centre for 15 minutes after your child is vaccinated. In the unlikely event that your child gets an allergic reaction, the doctors and nurses there can give treatment right away.
Studies on rare side effects
Two extremely rare side effects of coronavirus vaccination are myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the sac-like tissue around the heart). These effects are hardly ever seen in children aged 5 to 11. If it does occur, it is usually after the second dose. For every million boys who have had a second vaccine dose, 4 to 5 cases have been reported. And 2 cases for every million girls who have had a second dose. All these cases were mild and the children recovered quickly.
Myocarditis and pericarditis in children with MIS-C
MIS-C is a very rare complication of COVID-19 in which several parts of the body can become inflamed, including the heart. So myocarditis and pericarditis can be symptoms of MIS-C. Around 1 in 4,000 children who are infected with coronavirus develop MIS-C. The chance of myocarditis after a coronavirus infection in children without MIS-C is very small.
- To find out more about side effects, go to the website of the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Centre Lareb. You can also report side effects of vaccination there.