Are COVID-19 Vaccinations Safe for Children and Adolescents?

Currently, nearly half of people in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, however, a large segment of the population has yet to be vaccinated — children and younger adolescents. Until recently, many of those children and teens were not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include children ages 12 to 16. Meanwhile, clinical trials have begun to test the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in children under 12. Moderna has announced that it plans to seek FDA authorization in early June after releasing that their COVID-19 vaccine was 100% effective in a study of adolescents ages 12 to 17.

According to Dr. Dean A. Blumberg, chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at the University of California, “There’s nothing really magic about the difference between a 12-year-old and an 11-year old, but you just have to do the studies to prove the vaccines are safe and effective,” he explained.  “You have to do them by different ages because we know that the dose may need to be adjusted, either a decreased dose if it’s a weight-based dose or maybe an increased dose due to the immature immune system and to look for any kind of unusual side effects that may occur while achieving a robust immune response.”

female doctor holds syringe and bottle with vaccine for coronavirus

We have gathered a list of frequently asked questions about COVID 19 vaccine use for children:

Is it safe for my child to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine safe for children ages 12 and older. As for children younger than 12, c​linical trials are now underway in children as young as six months old.

How do we know COVID-19 vaccines are safe for kids?

Before getting FDA emergency use authorization, clinical trials showed COVID-19 vaccines to be remarkably safe and effective for adults and teens 16 and up. These clinical trials involved tens of thousands of volunteers. After getting additional safety data for younger teens, the FDA extended authorization to adolescents age 12 and older. Currently, clinical trials are underway for children as young as six months old.

What side effects could my child get after receiving the vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, but there are some short-term side effects your child may experience. In clinical trials, some common side effects include:

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

Is it safe to receive the vaccine if my child has an allergy to certain foods or medication?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people get vaccinated if they have a history of severe allergic reactions such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies. If there is an allergy to a specific component of the vaccine or to Miralax then the vaccine might not be appropriate. If you have additional questions on your child’s specific allergy, contact your provider at Elmwood Pediatric Group.

When will children younger than 12 be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Two weeks ago, the CDC voted to begin clinical trials to test the safety of the vaccine for children under 12 years of age. These trials are expected to last several months and are projecting the results to be available during Fall of this year.

Can my child get the vaccine without a parent or guardian present?

Most states do require some form of parental or guardian consent children ages 12 to 15, however there are a few exceptions:

    • Five states — Alabama, Iowa, North Carolina, Oregon, and Tennessee — allow some children under 16 to consent for themselves, or leave requirements to individual vaccine providers. If you are unsure of your state’s specific age requirements, contact your provider at Elmwood Pediatric Group.

How long does it take for the vaccines to create immunity?

It’s important to be aware that these vaccinations prevent serious illness from COVID-19, but one could still be diagnosed with a mild case.

It usually takes two weeks after you are fully vaccinated for your body to build antibodies that provide protection against COVID-19. This means that it is still possible for someone to get COVID-19 before or or right after the vaccine, as it did not have enough time to build antibodies. We recommend children still utilize precautions, including masks and social distancing, until this two-week period is over.

How much will my child’s COVID 19 vaccine cost?

COVID-19 vaccines are free, whether or not you have health insurance.

Elmwood Pediatric Group recommends all children who are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine do so. If you have any further questions or concerns, contact our office. Our providers are happy to answer any questions you may have related to COVID-19 vaccines.

Updated: May 25, 2021

For the most up-to-date information, visit the FDA, CDC, and WHO’s websites.

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