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).

Find Updated COVID-19 Vaccines for Your Child Near You

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 help protect your child against serious illness and hospitalization.

Vaccination Recommendations for Children

Children aged 5 years and older should get 1 dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendations for Children Aged 6 Months - 4 Years
UnvaccinatedIf your child is unvaccinatedThey should receive 2 doses of Moderna vaccine
3 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
ModernaIf your child received at least 1 dose of Moderna vaccine before September 12, 2023.They should receive 1 updated dose of Moderna vaccine based on the recommended schedule by your child's healthcare provider.
Pfizer-BioNTechIf your child received 1 dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine before September 12, 2023.They should receive 2 doses of updated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on the recommended schedule by your child's healthcare provider.
Pfizer-BioNTechIf your child received 2 or more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine before September 12, 2023. They should receive 1 dose of updated Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on the recommended schedule by your child's healthcare provider. 

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.

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

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

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine safety at the CDC's website.  

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. 

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.

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: 

  • Be honest with your child about where you are going, what steps are involved and potential side effects they may feel afterwards. Give them control over choices they can own:
  • Do they want to bring a favorite stuffed animal along to squeeze or hold your hand?
  • Is there a favorite band aid from home or do they want to use one at the clinic? 
  • Do they want to shut their eyes tight or look at you when the shot takes place? 
  • Practice taking deep breaths - “Smell the flowers and blow out the candles.” 
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions. 
  • Never scold a child for not “being brave.” 
  • If your child is anxious, ask the healthcare provider to do the vaccination first thing and then come back for any other clinical needs scheduled.

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

Additional Recommended Routine Vaccinations for Children  

These vaccines protect against infectious respiratory diseases: 

  • Influenza – to protect from seasonal flu each year (6 months and older) 
  • DTaP – for children young than 7 years old to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria and tetanus 
  • Tdap – for older children and teens to protect again pertussis (whopping cough), diphtheria and tetanus 
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia- to protect against the most common type of bacterial pneumonia.

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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: June 7, 2024

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