COVID-19 Vaccine and Kids: Safety & What to Expect
December 08, 2021
As of June 17, 2022, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are officially available for everyone six months of age and older.
The CDC recommends vaccination even for children who have already had COVID-19 infections, as researchers are still unsure of how long people are protected from getting sick again after recovery.
COVID-19 Risk in Kids
While most children who are infected with COVID-19 experience only mild illness, some more severe cases do require hospitalization for treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia and multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can affect many organs, including the heart.
After infection, some children experience “long COVID” symptoms for months, including difficulty breathing, brain fog, extreme fatigue, and joint and body aches. This can happen even if the infection had few or no symptoms.
“Vaccinating the pediatric population will allow children to be safer in daycare, school, sports and other activities,” says Sejal Bhavsar, M.D., a board-certified pediatric infectious diseases specialist. “The vaccine can prevent both serious disease and the risk of any long-term problems associated with COVID-19.”
What to Expect With the Vaccine
"Clinical trials have been conducted with thousands of children and teens to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. After vaccination, children have reported similar side effects as those in adults," says Dr. Bhavsar. “These side effects typically last for just a few days and may be more likely to occur after the second dose.”
Those mild and temporary side effects may include:
- Pain at the injection site
Even less common symptoms may include:
- Joint pain
Long-term side effects of the vaccine are unlikely to occur. Millions of people have received the COVID-19 vaccines since December 2020 with no identified long-term side effects.
Is Myocarditis a Concern?
There have been rare instances of myocarditis—inflammation of the heart typically caused by a viral infection—in children after receiving the vaccine. “While some people who were infected with COVID-19 have experienced more severe heart inflammation as a complication, it’s even more rare after COVID-19 vaccination and usually less severe,” says Dr. Bhavsar.
Like with adults, the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should not be given to any child who has a history of allergy to any component of the vaccine. Confirm with your child’s pediatrician that they are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Next Steps & Resources
- Meet our source: Sejal Bhavsar, M.D.
- To make an appointment with Dr. Bhavsar or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
- If your child continues to experience COVID-19 symptoms, even after recovery, consider making an appointment with the Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health Pediatric COVID-19 Recovery Center, which can be reached at PedsCOVIDRecovery@hmhn.org or 551-996-2911.
- Schedule a vaccine at a Hackensack Meridian Health site
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.