Protecting Your Child Against COVID-19

What you need to know about kids and COVID-19 vaccines.

Children Are Susceptible to COVID-19 Too

It is important to remember that anyone, at any age, can get severely ill from COVID-19. In general, children have been less affected by severe COVID-19 disease compared with adults. However, children with health conditions such as asthma or chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, diabetes and obesity can be at higher risk for severe illness when compared with children who do not have health conditions. Children who have not been vaccinated are at increased risk for developing one rare, but potentially serious condition associated with COVID-19 is called multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

Vaccination Is the Best Protection Against COVID-19 Illness

There are ways to help prevent COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective and are the best way to protect your child. Vaccines not only provide protection against COVID-19, but can also help prevent serious illness and hospitalization if your child becomes sick.

Vaccine Availability for Children

COVID-19 vaccines are available for ages 6 months and older.

AgeVaccineNumber of Primary DosesBooster Eligibility
6 months to 4 yearsPfizer-BioNTech3None
6 months to 17 yearsModerna2Ages 5+ may receive a bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech booster and ages 6+ may receive either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, at least 2 months after primary series or monovalent booster
5 to 17 yearsPfizer-BioNTech2

Ages 15+: a bivalent booster, at least 2 months after primary series or monovalent booster 

12 to 17 yearsNovavax2Ages 12+ may receive a bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster, at least 2 months after primary series or monovalent booster.

Children can get their COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other routine vaccinations.

Frequently Asked Questions about Kids and COVID-19 Vaccination

Potential COVID-19 vaccine side effects in children include: 

  • Pain, swelling and redness where the shot was given
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea

Side effects mean the body is building immunity against COVID-19 and these effects should go away in a few days. Encourage your child to rest, use a hot compress on the injection site, drink lots of fluids and you should speak with your child's healthcare provider about pain medication or any other worrisome side effects as needed. Like with other vaccines your child receives, not everyone will have side effects.

The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. The cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents are rare and have been reported more after getting the second dose than after the first dose of an mRNA vaccine. This is being closely monitored by the CDC. 

It is important to be aware of safety and side effect issues around the vaccine, each person should weigh these usually mild side effects against the great benefit of protection against moderate to severe illness which can occur at any age and in people without any underlying conditions. Long-term effects after COVID-19 infection do occur in children and teens and can happen after mild to severe COVID-19.

Talk to your child’s healthcare provider to help you weigh the benefits versus risks.

There are ways to report side effects and it is being monitored, learn more about post-approval surveillance and vaccine safety.

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available. Check your child’s healthcare provider, local health departments and local pharmacy to see if COVID-19 vaccination appointments are available for your child’s age. You can also search, text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you. 


Ages 6 months to 4 yearsPrimary Dose 1Primary Dose 2, 3-8 weeks after dose 1Primary dose 3, at least 3-8 weeks after dose 2
Ages 5 and overPrimary Dose 1Primary Dose 2, 3-8 weeks after dose 1

A bivalent booster, at least 2 months after primary series or monovalent booster 


Ages 6 months to 17 yearsPrimary Dose 1Primary Dose 2, 4-8 weeks after dose 1
Ages 5+ may receive a bivalent booster, at least 2 months after primary series or monovalent booster.

Ages 12 and overPrimary Dose 1Primary Dose 2, 3-8 weeks after dose 1Ages 12+ may receive a bivalent booster, at least 2 months after primary series or monovalent booster.

Kids 6 months and older with moderately to severely compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and may not build the same level of immunity to a two-dose vaccine series compared to people who are not immunocompromised. For these individuals, CDC recommends three primary doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Children 5 years and older with immunocompromising conditions should receive a bivalent mRNA booster dose.

For more information on booster doses visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Make sure all members of the household that are 6 months and older are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. Visitors at your home should also be vaccinated. Continue taking steps to prevent getting sick.

Dosing is based on the age of child on the day they are vaccinated, not the weight of the child, and we know that children are not small adults. Children under 12 receive smaller, age appropriate doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna 6 months-5 years: 25 micrograms

Pfizer 6 months-4 years: 3 micrograms

Moderna 6-11 years: 50 micrograms

Pfizer 5-11 years: 10 micrograms

Pfizer 12+: 30 micrograms

Moderna 12+: 100 micrograms

Yes, people who get vaccinated after they have been infected will benefit from vaccination.

It is not uncommon for children to fear needles and getting painful shots. These tips can help make this potentially stressful event less worrisome. First, speak with your child about all the steps that will occur so they are prepared. Second, give them control over choices can own. Do they want to bring a favorite stuffed animal along to squeeze or hold your hand? Bring a band aid from home or use one at the clinic? Shut their eyes tight or look at you? Third, practice deep breathing and positive affirmations like, “I’ve got this.” Finally, be honest with your child about where you are going and what the side effects might be from the vaccination.

Additional benefits to COVID-19 Vaccination:

  • Keeps your kids in school
  • Allows children to fully participant in extracurricular activities
  • Less missed workdays due to COVID-19 exposure or infection in your children
  • Helps contribute to the decline of COVID-19 cases
  • Helps decrease the likelihood for additional variants

After your child is vaccinated, enroll them in v-safe to share how your child is feeling after receiving their COVID-19 vaccination.

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Call the Lung HelpLine

Our Lung HelpLine is answering questions about COVID-19. Contact our Lung HelpLine by calling 1-800-LUNGUSA or submitting a question online.

Page last updated: October 25, 2022

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