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VERIFY: No, a larger child under the authorized vaccination age can not get a COVID-19 shot

A WCNC Charlotte viewer wanted to know if her daughter, who is nine but larger for her age, might still qualify for a COVID-19 vaccination.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are three brands of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. People 12 and older can get the Pfizer vaccine, while those 18 and older can get Moderna or Johnson and Johnson.

In August, the Food and Drug Administration granted full licensure to the Pfizer vaccine, now known as comirnaty, for everyone 16 years and older.

For those 12 to 15, the vaccine is still under emergency use authorization, while the FDA considers full approval for this age group.

WCNC Charlotte viewer Victoria J. wanted to know if her younger child could skirt the age approval, writing, "My daughter is 9 and has an adult weight and height. Can she get a COVID vaccine?"


Can a child younger than the authorized age for vaccination against COVID-19 still get the vaccine if they are large for their age?



This is false.

Sources say, no. Bregier says it is not just a child's height and weight that matter when it comes to getting a vaccine, but it's also about their immune system. 

"We do know these pediatric vaccines are coming along," Bregier said. "We think there may be one approved for ages 5 to 11 as soon as next month, and they will be different products, different formulations of vaccine."

Both the FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are discouraging clinicians from administering the vaccine to children under 12.

“The clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 11 years old and younger are underway, and we need to see the data from those studies before we give this vaccine to younger children,” Lee Savio Beers, AAP President, said. “The dose may be different for younger ages. The AAP recommends against giving the vaccine to children under 12 (years) until authorized by the FDA.”

Giving the shot to anyone under 12 would be considered an off-label use, the AAP said, in a statement.

"As children age... their immune system and their immune response becomes more and more closer to mimicking that of an adult," Bregier said. "It's not that children who are age 12 are adults, but they are maturing. They are starting to develop in other ways."

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.

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