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COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids: Learn the Facts

Safety | Wellness | Infographics | July 21, 2021
Fact sheet on COVID-19 vaccine for children
What you need to know to make an informed decision, right for your children and family.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available to children ages 12 and older in the U.S. Research shows that getting a COVID-19 vaccination can help protect your child from getting COVID-19 and may also help keep your child from spreading COVID-19 to others who are not eligible or able to get vaccinated at this time.

Here's what parents need to know about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, the possible side effects, and the benefits of getting vaccinated.

The FDA determined that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and highly effective for use in kids ages 12 and older

After rigorous safety testing in thousands of participants, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave emergency-use authorization. Clinical trials showed the vaccine is safe and highly effective for ages 12–15. Your child will not get COVID-19 from the vaccine, and it can be administered simultaneously with other vaccinations.

Children may experience some side effects

Children 12 and older given the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine had side effects similar to those experienced by people 18 and older. Side effects indicate that the body is building protection. There is no need to worry if your child experiences side effects unless severe. The most commonly reported side effects include:

  • Pain where the shot was given
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Joint pain

Similar to adults, children have side effects that typically last a day or two. More adolescents reported these side effects, except for injection site pain, after the second dose of the vaccine. However, some people have no side effects.

After your child is given a COVID-19 vaccine, they will be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes to see if they have a severe allergic reaction that requires treatment.

It isn't recommended that you give your child an over-the-counter pain reliever before vaccination to prevent side effects. It's OK to give this kind of medication after your child gets a COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccines rarely cause long-term effects, but there is ongoing research on any long-term effects of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Because COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials only started in the summer of 2020, it's not yet clear if the vaccines will have long-term effects. However, vaccines rarely cause long-term effects.

A portion of the children ages 12 through 15 enrolled in the ongoing Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine study were monitored for safety for at least two months after being given the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As part of its first request for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in 2020, Pfizer created a safety monitoring plan. The plan includes the monitoring of adolescents given the COVID-19 vaccine.

Researchers are investigating whether, in rare instances, COVID-19 vaccines may affect the heart, particularly in young men and teen boys

In the U.S., there has been an increase in reported cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in male adolescents and young adults aged 16 and older. Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle, while pericarditis is the inflammation of the lining outside the heart. These reports are rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating to see if there is any relationship to COVID-19 vaccination. The FDA is also adding a warning to the fact sheets for the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as medical experts continue to investigate these cases.

Of the cases reported, the problem happened more often after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and typically within several days after COVID-19 vaccination. Most of the people who received care quickly felt better after receiving medicine and resting. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart

If you or your child has any of these symptoms within a week of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, seek medical care.

In addition, in the U.S., all vaccination providers are required to report serious adverse events, such as allergic reactions, to a national program called the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

Even if children don't frequently experience severe illness with COVID-19, they should still get a COVID-19 vaccine

A COVID-19 vaccine can prevent your child from getting and spreading the COVID-19 virus. If your child gets COVID-19, a COVID-19 vaccine could prevent them from becoming severely ill.

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also allow your child to start doing things that they might not have been able to do because of the pandemic, including not wearing a mask or social distancing in any setting — except where required by a rule or law.

There is no difference in the ingredients or dosing of the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 16 and older and for children ages 12 through 15

The ingredients and dosing of this vaccine are the same for all age groups.

If a child has a history of severe allergic reactions to any of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine ingredients, they should not get the vaccine

The vaccine shouldn't be given to a child with a known history of a severe allergic reaction to any of its ingredients. If this is the case, your child might be able to get another COVID-19 vaccine in the future. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your child's primary care provider to make an informed decision, right for you and your family.

The COVID-19 vaccine is effective on multiple strains of the virus

Changes in viruses are typical and expected. According to experts, COVID-19 vaccines should most likely protect against multiple strains of the virus. However, just as flu viruses change often and doctors recommend that you get a flu shot each year, long-term, COVID-19 vaccines may also need to be revised to allow for growing diversity in the virus.

A COVID-19 vaccine cannot give a child COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. don't use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

Verbal consent of a parent or guardian of children aged 12 and older varies by state and may be required for vaccination

Oregon: A parent or guardian of minors between 12–14 years of age must provide verbal consent to PeaceHealth before vaccination. This can be done in person at the time of the vaccination or over the phone before the appointment. A minor 15 years old and older may sign their own consent for vaccination.

Washington/Alaska: A parent or guardian of minors between 12–17 years of age must provide verbal consent to PeaceHealth before vaccination. This can be done in person at the time of the vaccination or over the phone before the appointment. Minors who are legally emancipated may be able to provide their own consent.

Getting your child vaccinated is quick, easy, and currently free.

The vaccine is currently completely free regardless of immigration and insurance status, and it's quick and easy for your child to get. PeaceHealth offers vaccine appointments by telephone and online scheduling.

Source: Mayo Clinic

COVID-19 vaccine facts for children

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