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COVID-19 Vaccine for Children

Vacuna contra el Covid-19 para niNos Y Adolescentes

The COVID-19 virus is still spreading and more contagious variants are causing a rise in pediatric cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all children and adolescents 5 years of age and older receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized vaccines to battle COVID-19—which are safe, effective, and proven to prevent severe illness from the virus.

COVID-19 vaccine information for children and adolescents 5 to 17 years of age

  • The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine to be given to children 5 to 15 years of age. Full approval of the vaccine has been authorized for individuals 16 years of age and older.
  • Although the risk of children experiencing severe illness from COVID-19 is low, mutations of the virus have increased infections among children and adolescents.
  • The vaccine helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and can help protect those who are more vulnerable to the virus and siblings who are not eligible for the vaccine.
  • Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for children and teens 5 to 17 years of age.*
    • Children between 5–11 years of age will receive one-third of the adult dose.
    • Adolescents between 12–17 years of age receive the same dosage of the vaccine as adults.
    • There is no weight requirement for the vaccine and dosage does not vary based on a child’s weight.
    • The Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses, spaced three weeks apart. Your child will need to receive both doses to be fully vaccinated.
    • For added protection and to reduce the spread of coronavirus mutations, adolescents 12-17 years of age should receive a booster of the Pfizer vaccine five months after their last dose.
  • The vaccine will help keep your child in school and provide protection for your child to participate sports and other group activities.
  • It is safe for your child to receive other vaccines at the same time as receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Data suggest that the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination. Your child’s pediatrician is the best source for information. They know your child’s medical history and can answer your specific questions.

child getting a vaccine

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*The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been linked to rare reports of myocarditis and pericarditis in young adults, especially in males. The benefits of a receiving a COVID-19 vaccine still far outweigh the potential risks of an adverse reaction.

How do the vaccines work?

  • The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines. The vaccine teaches your body to make a “spike protein”, a harmless piece of what is on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Although widespread use of mRNA vaccines is new, the technology has been studied for decades.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovirus vaccine. It uses a harmless cold virus to deliver the DNA for the “spike protein” that is on the surface of the COVID-19 virus.
  • The “spike protein” then triggers an immune response that then produces antibodies. The antibodies protect your body, should you ever get infected with the real virus.
  • The vaccines do not:
  • Your body’s immune response to the vaccine is what causes the side effect symptoms (like aches and fever).

Suggested articles:

The Science Behind COVID-19 Vaccines: Parent FAQs

Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

Possible side effects

It’s important to talk to your child about what to expect from getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Your child may experience short-term side effects similar to that an of adult, typically present after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. Studies show that children 5–11 years old were less likely to experience side effects than older adolescents and adults.

It is not recommended to take pain relievers before the vaccine to try to prevent side effects.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain

Suggested article: What side effects might my child have after a COVID-19 vaccine?

Here’s what you can do to protect unvaccinated family members:

  • Parents, caregivers, family members, and eligible adolescents should get vaccinated to create a protective cocoon.
  • Talk to those interacting with your kids about their vaccination status. If those individuals are unvaccinated, determine your comfort level. You may kindly ask for those individuals to wear a mask.
  • Teach kids good hand hygiene, to cough and sneeze into their elbow, and try to maintain physical distance.
  • Try to maximize your time spent outdoors. When this is not possible, follow mask recommendations.

Understand as much as you can about COVID-19 and the available vaccines through trusted resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Are children being infected by COVID-19?

New variants are more transmissible—including to children. Children infected with COVID-19 may experience a rare but serious complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). It is important to consider who your child interacts with and level of transmission within your community.

Was the COVID-19 vaccine rushed?

The development of COVID-19 vaccines was a worldwide effort to try to put a stop to the pandemic. All three vaccines authorized in the United States are proven to be safe and effective and no shortcuts were taken.

Suggested article: Was the COVID-19 vaccine rushed?

What happens if my child has his/her 12th birthday between vaccine doses?

If your child turns 12 during the gap between a first dose and second dose, he/she would receive the dosage indicated for the age at the time of the inoculation.

Dr. Erwin talks about COVID-19 and vaccines for kids

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