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COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 years and older

Vaccines for COVID-19 - children and teens; COVID - 19 vaccinations for children and teens; COVID - 19 shots for children and teens; Vaccinations for COVID – 19 - children and teens; COVID - 19 immunizations for children and teens; COVID - 19 prevention – vaccines for children and teens; mRNA vaccine for children and teens - COVID

COVID-19 vaccines are used to prepare the body's immune system to protect against COVID-19. These vaccines are a vital tool to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children and teenagers ages 5 to 17 years should get a COVID-19 vaccination. Getting a vaccine will help prevent your child from getting COVID-19. It will also help prevent the spread of the disease and help protect your family and the community.

Information

COVID-19 vaccines protect people from getting COVID-19. These vaccines "teach" your child’s body how to defend against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

WHY CHILDREN AND TEENS SHOULD GET VACCINATED

It's true that most children and teens are at lower risk from becoming very sick from COVID-19. But low risk does not mean no risk. Children and teens can:

Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. So, vaccination is very important to help protect against the virus.

There are many good reasons to have your child or teen get a COVID-19 vaccination:

ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS

Children ages 5 to 17 can get the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine. This is the only vaccine available to this age group at this time.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine given to children and teens has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults.

It takes time for your child's immune system to start protecting them after receiving the vaccine. Children are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

VACCINE MYTHS

COVID-19 vaccines:

To get up-to-date accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:

VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS

While COVID-19 vaccines will not make children sick, they may cause certain side effects and flu-like symptoms. This is normal. These symptoms are a sign that your child’s body is making antibodies against the virus. Common side effects include:

Side effects from the shot may affect your child's ability to do daily activities, but they will go away in a few days. Even if your child has side effects, they should get the second shot. Any side effects from the vaccine are far less dangerous than the potential for serious illness or death from COVID-19.

HOW TO GET THE VACCINE

COVID-19 vaccines are available to all children living in the United States at no cost. Children can get this free shot regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

There are several ways to find vaccination providers near you.

VACCINE SAFETY

The safety of vaccines is the top priority, and COVID-19 vaccines for children have passed rigorous safety standards before approval. They continue to be closely monitored to ensure they are safe and effective.

Serious health events from COVID-19 vaccines, such as an allergic reaction, are rare.

Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported in children ages 12 to 17 after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Symptoms of myocarditis and pericarditis include:

If your child or teenager has any of these symptoms, get medical help right away.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety, go to the CDC website:

VACCINE BOOSTER SHOTS

Over time, COVID-19 vaccines appear to become less protective against the virus. Getting a booster dose helps provide additional protection against COVID-19. As a result, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shots are now recommended for all children ages 12 to 17 at least 5 months after receiving the first series of shots.

The CDC has further information about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

WHAT CHILDREN CAN DO ONCE FULLY VACCINATED

We are still learning how well vaccines help prevent COVID-19 from spreading and how long the protection they provide lasts. Until more is known, using vaccines, masks, and taking other steps to help protect others is the best way to stay safe and healthy.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html. Updated January 11, 2022. Accessed March 13, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/myocarditis.html. Updated November 12, 2021. Accessed March 13, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Myths and facts about COVID-19 vaccines. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html. Updated December 15, 2021. Accessed March 13, 2022.

Woodworth KR, Moulia D, Collins JP, et al. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in Children Aged 5–11 Years — United States, November 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 5 November 2021. www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7045e1.htm?s_cid=mm7045e1_x. Accessed March 13, 2022.

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Review Date: 3/13/2022  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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