Q&A: COVID Vaccine for Kids
The physicians and staff of University of Maryland Children's Hospital understand that parents have a lot of questions about the COVID vaccine now that the vaccine is available to children age 6 months and up. For the most up-to-date recommendations about vaccines and boosters for children, see the Centers for Disease Control's website.
I thought children were low-risk for COVID-19. Do they still need to get the vaccine?
Dr. Carter: Absolutely! Though many children have mild disease, there is still a portion that has become quite ill from COVID, with many hospitalized and even a number of pediatric deaths. We also have seen many longer-term complications that make it a higher risk to kids than other common viruses.
Additionally, it is the best way to contribute overall to lowering the spread in our community, and kids can play an important role in ending this pandemic.
See these 7 reasons to get the vaccine.
I'm vaccinated, but my child is not. Can I still give COVID-19 to them?
Dr. Carter: Unfortunately, yes. Vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus due to lower amounts of virus overall, but if exposed, they may carry the virus and not have symptoms. This means they can still spread to others who are unvaccinated. It is important to get all eligible children vaccinated to decrease the spread and protect the population that is not yet eligible.
Dr. Berry: Vaccinated people are less likely to get infected, and when infected, they are less likely to transmit the virus to others. Vaccination is a good idea for children because they will interact with other people besides their parents.
Although many children have mild disease, some are hospitalized, and COVID-19 was the tenth leading cause of childhood death in the United States during the first year of the pandemic.
Why does my child need to go to a mass vaccination site and not my child's pediatrician?
Dr. Carter: We strongly recommend that you contact your pediatrician and seek to get vaccinated with their office if it is available, as this will create a safe and nurturing environment for your child as they get the vaccine.
However, there are some practices that do not yet have a supply of vaccines for all ages. In those cases, we do not recommend waiting longer to get vaccinated, as the sooner your child gets the vaccine, the sooner they are protected.
In those cases, we recommend seeking a friendly environment such as those provided by school-based vaccination clinics or sessions set up by your local health department.
Can a child get another vaccine and a COVID vaccine at the same time?
Dr. Carter: Yes - the CDC has removed all restrictions around receiving the COVID vaccine and other vaccines at the same time. This is based on evidence from many other vaccines studied that demonstrate that this is a safe choice and improves protection against COVID and many other viruses.
What pain medicine should we use to help our kids with vaccine side effects?
Dr. Carter: In general, there is no requirement to give any pain medication. However, if your child has some of the common side effects of the vaccine, feel free to give a dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen as needed.
We do not recommend pre-treatment with medication prior to developing these symptoms to maximize your child's immune response to the vaccine.
What are the immediate side effects of the COVID vaccine?
Dr. Carter: Many children may have no side effects at all. Others may notice a sore arm, some enlarged lymph nodes (lumps and bumps) in their armpit and may develop a fever (for a short period of time), chills and fatigue or body aches. These are all self-limited symptoms that generally do not last more than 24 to 48 hours.
Side effects are generally significantly milder than the effects of active COVID might be if your child were to get a true infection.
Please see this vaccine information for detailed information about side effects.
Will this vaccine give my child a blood clot?
Dr. Berry: There is no known association between receiving an mRNA vaccine and developing a blood clot. The United States Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System was able to detect the very rare occurrence of blood clots following the Johnson & Johnson adenovirus-vectored vaccine (3 in 1 million) after 6 weeks of vaccination.
Long-Term Questions About the Vaccine
Will the shot affect my daughter's fertility?
Dr. Berry: No. There has been misinformation that mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, can affect fertility, but no evidence that COVID-19 infection has impacted fertility.
During the licensure study for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, 23 pregnancies were reported in participants, with balanced numbers of pregnancies in the vaccine and the placebo groups.
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