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VERIFY: COVID-19 dosages are approved by age, not weight

The Verify team explores what could happen if a child takes a dosage not approved for their age.

WASHINGTON — COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children began opening in the DMV, as soon as the CDC signed off on vaccinating kids ages 5 to 11. The Old Gander Mountain store in Woodbridge and Takoma Community Center in D.C. are already up and running. In Maryland, parents can take their children to the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.

The FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, finding it to be 90% effective in children that age range. The dosage for children in that age range is about a third of the adult dosage.


Why is the COVID-19 vaccine approved by a child’s age and not their weight? What could potentially happen if you take a dose not approved for your age range?


  • The FDA
  • Dr. Allison Agwu, Johns Hopkins Children Center

The Answer:

Dr. Agwu said that the concept of making vaccine decisions based on an age range is not unusual.

“When they study, what you want is the dose that will get you the response -- in this case neutralize and be able to protect -- and this dose happened to work for this age range," she said. 

Agwu noted that it was extremely important to give your kids only the dosage amount that their age group has been approved for. 

“In some cases, if you give someone a dose that’s too high, you may have a more robust response than you need to and that can lead more likely to side effects,” Dr. Agwu said. 

Parents across the metro region are lining up to get their children vaccinated, including Lindsay Oles, who said her 5-year-old son, Finn, got his first dose this week.

“We believe in herd immunity," Oles said. "We’re doing our part. He’s around kids all the time and we want to be able to go out and enjoy our life,” Oles said.

RELATED: First doses of Pfizer COVID vaccine enter the arms of DC kids ages 5 to 11

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