COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

While COVID-19 infection tends to be milder in children compared with adults, it can make children very sick and cause children to be hospitalized. In some situations, children can experience severe complications including death.

Although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 compared with adults, children can

  • Be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19
  • Get very sick from COVID-19
  • Have both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19
  • Spread COVID-19 to others

Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions. 

COVID-19 Vaccines are Safe for Children 5 years and older

Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials. The FDA gave the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine emergency authorization to use in children ages 5-15 years old and full approval to use in people ages 16 years and older. Learn more about the process of developing, authorizing, and approving COVID-19 vaccines

The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks. Get a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 years and older as soon as you can.

COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored for safety with the most comprehensive and intense safety monitoring program in U.S. history. CDC monitors the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines after the vaccines are authorized or approved for use, including the risk of rare conditions including myocarditis in children ages 5 through 11 years.

  • Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including the flu vaccine, at the same time.
  • Children with food and seasonal allergies or any other underlying conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and obesity should be vaccinated. It is also recommended to talk to your child’s doctor if you have specific questions regarding a pre-existing medical condition.
  • Serious health events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.
  • Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 12–17 years.  These reactions are rare; in one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech in the week following vaccination was around 54 cases per million doses administered to males aged 12–17 years.
  • severe allergic reaction, like anaphylaxis, may happen after any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, but this is rare.
  • Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Learn more about how mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, work.
  • There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems.

Expect the following at the time of vaccination

  • Complete consent forms in advance. Your child can get the vaccine even if you cannot be present. We will call you on the phone if there are any questions. No child will be vaccinated without a signed consent form from a parent or legal guardian.
  • Children ages 5 to 11 will receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The second dose will be administered three weeks after the first dose.
  • Your child will get a white CDC COVID-19 vaccine record card. Bring your child’s yellow childhood immunization card if you have one. We will update the yellow card too.
  • Children will wait in the observation area at least 15 minutes after vaccination.
  • A second dose appointment will be scheduled at the time of the first visit.

Common Side Effects

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain

Throughout the body

  • Tiredness
  • Aches
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Nausea

Helpful Tips to Reduce Side Effects

To reduce pain at the shot site:

  • Use or exercise the arm

To reduce fever:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Dress lightly

Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home after your child gets vaccinated. According to the CDC, aspirin is not recommended for use in children and adolescents less than 18 years of age. Placing a cool, damp cloth on the injection site can help with discomfort.

When to Call the Doctor

Mild side effects from the vaccine are common. It means the vaccine is working. Side effects are more common for the second dose of the vaccine. A few people have worse side effects than others. Contact your child’s doctor if:

  • Redness or tenderness at the shot site gets worse after 24 hours
  • Side effects do not go away after a few days

If you do not have a doctor, call (408) 970-2000.

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