6 Questions Parents Are Asking About COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids

May 24, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Kevin A Slavin, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

Sejal Bhavsar, M.D. contributes to topics such as Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

In the United States, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has now been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in children 12 to 15 years of age. This same vaccination had already been authorized for children aged 16 and older.

While this may be a welcome piece of news for many parents, you may have some questions before you’re ready to sign your child up for an appointment. We connected with experts across Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health to get your questions answered:

How does COVID-19 affect children?

While COVID-19 causes mild illness in most children, some children do have more severe illness requiring hospitalization for treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), which can affect multiple organs, including the heart. Some children can also have “long COVID” with persistent symptoms for months after infection including extreme fatigue, “brain fog”, breathing problems and body aches.

The vaccine can prevent infection and should decrease the risk of all of these problems from COVID-19.

Should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Generally, yes. However, there may be instances where you and your child’s physician make a different determination. After rigorous research, the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 and older is safe and effective. Vaccination, as well as social distancing and masking, will help to make it possible for children to return to school, sports and other activities.

What are the possible side effects of the vaccine in children?

Research has shown that children receiving the vaccine reported similar side effects as adults, including temporary pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches and less commonly – fever, chills, nausea and joint pain. Side effects typically last 1-3 days and may be more likely after the second dose. Like with adults, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should not be given to anyone with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine.

Should I wait for my child to get the vaccine to ensure there are no long-term side effects?

Though long-term side effects are unknown at this time, they are unlikely to occur. COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized to be distributed to millions of people since December 2020 with no identified long-term side effects.

Which vaccines are currently available for children?

Only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination is authorized for children ages 12 years and older.

My child had COVID-19, should they still get the COVID-19 shot?

The CDC recommends vaccination even if you already had the COVID-19 infection because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. If your child has not experienced recent COVID-19 related symptoms, discuss with their physician when is the best time to schedule the COVID-19 vaccine.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.