This article was last updated on Nov. 5, 2021.
The decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine might be a no-brainer for many people. But, when it comes to children getting the vaccine, there could be hesitation or additional questions.
Here are some of the most-common concerns and what to consider before your child gets the COVID vaccine.
Which vaccines are available to children?
Currently, children ages 5 and up are able to receive an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer vaccine External Site. It is given in two doses, three weeks apart. Two other COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers — Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have additional trials underway to offer the vaccinations to this age group, as well as smaller doses for children as young as 6 months old.
Is the COVID vaccine safe for children?
Yes. These vaccines are the same as the adult vaccine, so they have been approved for emergency use authorization (EUA) and went through rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality. Getting vaccinated is the single most-effective way to protect your child from contracting COVID-19.
After getting the shot, children may experience mild side effects like:
- Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
Mild side effects can be monitored and managed from home. However, it's important to contact your doctor External Site if injection site redness or pain lasts for more than 24 hours, or if any symptoms last longer than a few days.
If you are concerned about potential long-term side effects for you child, like heart problems or fertility issues, discuss these with your child's doctor. Right now, heart conditions like myocarditis are very rare External Site, and it's unclear if it is related to the vaccine. And, there have been no links between the vaccine and fertility problems External Site. While your concerns should be taken seriously and discussed thoroughly with your child's doctor, there are no known long-term side effects at this time.
Does my child really need this vaccine?
In general, fewer children have been infected with COVID compared to adults. But, there is still real risk for passing on the virus to others, getting sick with COVID-19, experiencing long-term and serious health conditions like Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) External Site or long COVID External Site, and even death.
There is also growing concern about COVID variants External Site that are spreading more rapidly and having a bigger impact on children. The best way to protect your child from all strains of the virus is to be vaccinated.
As always, be sure to discuss any questions (like allergies or immune system concerns) with your child’s pediatrician. But, at this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending all children ages 12 and up get the vaccine External Site.
How can I help my child to become more comfortable getting the vaccine?
Try a few of these tips if you have a child who is nervous or apprehensive about the COVID vaccine.
- Model good behavior. Get vaccinated yourself! And, remind your child that the COVID vaccine, much like the flu shot and any other childhood vaccines, not only protects them, but also the people they love.
- Educate and explain. Show your child the research in a way they can understand. There are many resources geared toward children, like this book External Site, that simplify vaccine education. Encourage them to ask questions and talk to their pediatrician about any worries.
- Incentivize. Many children are eager to ditch their masks. Remind them that once fully vaccinated, they can go mask-free almost anywhere. Suggest a fun activity they’ve missed since the start of the pandemic that they can safely do once fully vaccinated External Site.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine for children, talk to your child's doctor. If you're a Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield member and need to find a trusted doctor near you, log in to myWellmark® Secure, your personalized member portal.
For general COVID-19 vaccine information, refer back to these stories here on Blue