What you need to know about the coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11

Lydia Melo, 7, is immunized with one of two child doses of the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine during a trial in Durham, N.C., in September 2021. (Shawn Rocco/Duke University/Reuters)

Parents of the more than 18 million 5- to 11-year-olds who have yet to start the coronavirus vaccine series now have a choice between Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 23 signed off on the two-dose Moderna vaccine for children 5 through 11. The two-dose Pfizer vaccine has been available to children in that age group since late last year.

“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from the complications of severe covid-19 disease,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement. “Vaccinating this age group can provide greater confidence to families that their children and adolescents participating in child care, school and other activities will have less risk for serious covid-19 illness.”

Some 5-to-11-year-olds received the nation's first children's coronavirus vaccine on Nov. 3, 2021, after the CDC authorized immunizing millions of kids. (Video: Justin Scuiletti/The Washington Post)

Coronavirus: What you need to know

The latest: The CDC has loosened many of its recommendations for battling the coronavirus, a strategic shift that puts more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions, to limit viral spread.

Variants: BA.5 is the most recent omicron subvariant, and it’s quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. Here’s what to know about it, and why vaccines may only offer limited protection.

Vaccines: Vaccines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 12 and older get an updated coronavirus booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant circulating now. You’re eligible for the shot if it has been at least two months since your initial vaccine or your last booster. An initial vaccine series for children under 5, meanwhile, became available this summer. Here’s what to know about how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections and booster history.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. The omicron variant is behind much of the recent spread.

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