Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are currently authorized for children ages 6 months and up. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe for those age groups.
Will Nemours Children's be offering the COVID-19 vaccine to patients?
We are currently offering the vaccine to patients age 5 and older in the Delaware Valley. We encourage Florida families to schedule your eligible child's COVID-19 vaccination at any Florida community clinic or retail site offering the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
Can all children receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Currently, we are vaccinating only children ages 6 months and up.
Can kids get COVID-19 vaccine along with the flu vaccine?
Yes. It is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine along with any other routine vaccine, including the flu vaccine. All kids 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine as soon as it is available in their communities. All kids ages 5 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Getting both vaccines now can mean fewer trips to the doctor and feeling any vaccine-related side effects only once.
Is the lower-dose COVID-19 vaccine OK for my child?
The experts have answered: the COVID-19 vaccine dose is based ONLY on a person’s age and NOT on their weight or height. The vaccine dosing is based upon the child’s age and is due to differences in immune response seen in younger children. Even with a lower dose, the vaccine was shown to produce a strong immune response in young children similar to that seen in older adolescents who received the higher dose. The lower does is also less likely to cause side effects for your child.
If my child had COVID-19, should they still get the vaccine?
Yes, the vaccine is recommended for people who have had COVID-19 because natural immunity does not last long and your child can get COVID-19 again, putting themselves and others at risk.
Once my child has the vaccine, will we all still need to wear a mask and social distance?
Yes, you should still follow guidance from the CDC and local public health authorities and continue to wear a mask, socially distance and follow safety precautions when community transmission risk is elevated in your area. There are a few reasons for this:
- The vaccine takes time to provide protection
- The vaccine has not been shown to be 100% effective at protecting people from severe COVID-19 illness.
- While the results from the clinical trials show the vaccine to be effective at reducing symptomatic COVID-19 disease, we know that vaccinated individuals can still become infected with and transmit the SARS CoV-2 virus.
- Early results from clinical trials suggest the immunity a person gets from the COVID-19 vaccine lasts longer than the immunity they would have after being ill with COVID-19, but we still do not know how long the protection will last.
Once vaccinated can my child or I still get COVID-19?
People can still get COVID-19 after vaccination. However, these infections are typically mild.
Does my child need the COVID-19 vaccine if healthy?
Yes, even young and healthy people should get the vaccine to avoid serious illness and health problems.
Does the COVID-19 vaccination cause infertility?
There is currently no evidence that the vaccine causes any problems with fertility (being able to have children) in women or men, but there is evidence that COVID-19 illness can impact fertility. The CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians have all stated that the vaccines should not be avoided by people who are seeking pregnancy both now, as well as in the future.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine impact menstruation?
The COVID-19 vaccine does not cause dangerous or permanent menstrual cycle changes.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?
Available evidence suggests the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for most pregnant and breastfeeding women and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly recommends the vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. Please consult with your personal physician to determine if the vaccine is safe for you.
How do the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines work?
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are known as messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines. Unlike traditional vaccines that contain either weakened viruses or purified signature proteins of the virus, an mRNA vaccine contains a snippet of genetic instruction that directs your cells to make harmless copies of the viral protein in your body. These proteins then act like a “Wanted” poster, warning your immune system, “Hey, if you see something that looks just like this, it’s a big threat, so shut it down.” Your immune system responds by producing antibodies that can neutralize the real virus if you are ever infected.
How is the vaccine given?
The vaccine is given by injecting it into a muscle, usually in an arm or thigh.
How many doses are required?
For the Pfizer vaccine primary series in children 5 years and older, two doses are required, given 21 days apart. For children 6 months to 4 years three doses are required with the first two doses given 21 days apart and at least 2 months recommended between doses 2 and 3. For the Moderna vaccine 2 doses are required 28 days apart for children of all ages.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Most people report no or mild side effects from dose 1 and more noticeable side effects after dose 2. Of those who experienced side effects, the most common include fatigue, headache, soreness at the site of injection or muscle/joint aches. Less than 2% of participants experienced a fever. Most people who experienced side effects said they went away after 48 hours.
What should I do if my child has a serious reaction to the vaccine (e.g., allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, etc.)?
If your child experiences a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis after receiving the vaccine you should seek medical care immediately or call 911. A severe allergic reaction can cause a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or a generalized rash or hives. These types of reactions are rare.
Wouldn't it be quicker and easier to have people get infected "naturally" to get to "herd immunity"?
No. Having uncontrolled, widespread community spread of COVID-19 would put your family and the entire community at serious risk. The health care system would be overwhelmed to the point that it could not take care of people with COVID-19 or those with any other health needs. Importantly, the risk of getting COVID-19 far outweighs any risk of the vaccine. Unfortunately, “natural immunity” does not last long; there are many cases of people who have already had COVID-19 twice. The best way to stop the pandemic is to follow safety guidelines and get the vaccine when it is your turn.
Who should get a COVID-19 vaccine booster?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend COVID-19 booster shots for everyone age 5 and older when five months have passed since they first received the COVID-19 vaccine. For most kids and teens that means they should get a booster shot five months after their second vaccine dose.
Some people with weak immune systems needed three primary doses when they first received the vaccine. For them, a booster shot is recommended when three months have passed since they received the primary three-shot series (three months after their third vaccine dose).
Is my child eligible to get a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine?
Kids ages 6 months through 5 years are eligible if they received:
- the full (two-dose) Moderna vaccine series at least 2 months ago;
- the first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at least 2 months ago. The third dose of the Pfizer vaccine series will be replaced with this bivalent vaccine.
Older kids who are vaccinated can get a bivalent booster shot at least two months after being fully vaccinated or after having received an original booster (which only protected against one strain of the virus that causes COVID-19).
Are more booster shots recommended for immunocompromised patients?
Yes, a second booster shot is recommended for patients 12 and over with weak immune systems four months after the first booster. These would be the same kids who received a three-shot primary series, so this would be a fifth shot for them.
Parents take note: The CDC also says that people 50 years and older can get a second booster shot
What to do next?
If your child has a medical condition that required three COVID-19 shots and more than four months have passed since their first booster shot, please call to schedule a second booster shot. If you aren't sure if your child qualifies, please call their pediatrician to find out. If you are over 50 years old, please schedule your second booster shot with your doctor or pharmacy.