Pediatricians and other experts answer questions about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Everyone ages 5+ can now get a COVID-19 vaccine, and those 12+ can get a booster shot five months after completing the two-shot COVID-19 vaccine series. Teens 12–17 years old may only get the Pfizer vaccine booster.
In this video, pediatric experts Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH and Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS cover the top 5 things parents want to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.
Question #1: Do kids even need a COVID-19 vaccine?
Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH: Yes!
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS: Yes.
Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH: The clear answer is your child needs to be vaccinated. Kids get COVID and they can get incredibly sick and even die of COVID. And, so, it’s really important for parents to understand that vaccinating your kid is the number one way to protect them from getting infected with COVID, to protect them from being hospitalized with COVID and from dying with COVID.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS: We also know that kids of color, Black and Brown kids in particular, experience this pandemic at a rate of almost three times worse with the worst outcomes. And, so, we know that this is another way to protect the most vulnerable population from having the worst outcomes by vaccinating them.
Question #2: Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH: The COVID vaccine is absolutely safe for kids. We know that because the rigorous clinical trials that 5 to 11-year-olds went through showed that it’s safe, that the side effects that kids experience are mild and they’re ones we saw for other age groups like teenagers and young adults. Things like pain at your injection site, which might be in your upper arm, or aches and pains, fevers, chills, things that are commonly treated with over-the-counter medications and typically only last a couple of days. We have not seen serious side effects among the 5 to 11-year-old group from the clinical trials.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS: The data is actually deeply encouraging, and I reviewed all 82 pages of it before it was reviewed by FDA and CDC. There were no reports of anaphylaxis, no reports of myocarditis, pericarditis, Bell’s palsy or appendicitis. Those are some of the biggest things that we’re looking for in our safety signals and understanding how safe this vaccine is.
Question #3: Do kids get the same COVID-19 vaccine as adults?
Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH: The vaccine that kids are getting, age 5-11, is one-third the dose of the vaccine that’s being given to adults.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS: The most amazing part about that is that they saw antibody levels as high as those who got the full adult dose.
Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH: So, the exact dose that’s given to kids is actually a dose that is rigorously tested to make sure that it’s safe for that age group. And that it works. That it actually protects kids from getting COVID infection or complications.
Question #4: What about long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH: A lot of parents have been very concerned about whether the COVID vaccines affect their child’s ability to go through puberty or their fertility long-term. And, so, it’s really important that everyone understands that we have now been looking at this closely. There’s no evidence of that.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS: We know that the vaccine is actually not in the person’s body for very long. And, so, we’re not concerned about long-term effects on the development of a child. There is no biological plausibility of these vaccines impairing fertility or reproductive health in boys or girls.
Question #5: Where can I get my child vaccinated for COVID-19?
Rhea Boyd, MD, MPH: You can go to your provider, to your pediatrician, to the doctor’s office that you regularly go to. You can go to a community site. If you’re familiar with getting your vaccine at a local pharmacy or a church or even schools. Many schools will also have the vaccines available to kids 5-11.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS: The COVID-19 vaccines are free and available to anybody who is eligible for the vaccine in the United States. You don’t need to worry about having health insurance or citizenship to be eligible.
Find FREE vaccines near you at vaccines.gov or call 1-800-232-0233.
There is no cost to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S., regardless of insurance or immigration status.
Get and share the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines with your loved ones at BetweenUsAboutUs.org.