Your helpful guide to COVID-19 vaccines for little kids
You can now protect your child under 6 with safe and effective COVID-19 shots.
COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children as young as 6 months. This milestone is bringing a sense of relief to many parents.
In fact, parents can feel confident knowing that the vaccines are safe and effective for young kids.
“Technically, the two vaccines approved for children ages 6 months to 5 years aren’t new,” says Annabelle de St. Maurice, MD. She’s an assistant professor in the infectious diseases division at UCLA. “They’re simply a lower dose of the same Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines given to adults and older children.” That means they have already been thoroughly researched.
If you haven’t vaccinated your little one yet, you may still have questions. Here are some facts to help you make your decision.
Fact: Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are overwhelmingly safe for little kids
Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children 6 months to 5 years have been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They have been studied in thousands of children around the world. The vaccines are safe and effective for everyone 6 months and older, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And there have been no severe side effects that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination, says Dr. de St. Maurice. Plus, experts continue to keep an eye out for very rare vaccination side effects. This helps to ensure that the shot is safe.
Fact: COVID-19 vaccine side effects in young kids are usually mild
In clinical trials, side effects of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in young kids were similar to the ones in adults. They include injection site pain, achiness, and fever. They are usually mild or moderate and go away in a day or two. With infants, you may notice some fussiness or tiredness.
Keep in mind that these side effects don’t mean your child is ill. Rather, it’s a sign that the vaccine has triggered their immune system to build a defense against COVID-19.
Fact: Young children are eligible for either Pfizer or Moderna shots
Pfizer and Moderna shots use the same science to protect against the worst effects of the virus. Both are proven to be effective, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. But there’s a difference in how the vaccines are given to this age group, per the CDC.
- Three-shot series for children 6 months to 4 years old
- Two-shot series for children 5 and older
- Two-shot series for children 6 months to 5 years old
- If you have questions about which vaccine is best for your little one, talk to your child’s doctor.
Schedule your child’s COVID-19 vaccine today.
Fact: The vaccine can keep little kids from getting really sick
It is true that a COVID-19 infection is generally not severe in young children. But it can be.
It’s especially important that children who have health conditions like leukemia get vaccinated, says Cody Meissner, MD. He’s a pediatric infectious disease expert at Dartmouth Health Children’s in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He’s also a member of the FDA advisory board that approved the vaccines for emergency use in young kids.
If your child is in a high-risk group, consult with their doctor about the vaccine.
Even if your child isn’t in a high-risk category, vaccinating them is a smart prevention move, Dr. de St. Maurice points out.
“We do see healthy kids who get very sick from COVID-19 and have to be hospitalized,” she says. “While it may happen very rarely, what if your child is one of those unlucky few? In a distressing situation like that, many parents’ first thought is, ‘What could I have done to prevent this?’”
Fact: Vaccinating young kids may help protect against long COVID
As you know, vaccination doesn’t 100% protect you from catching COVID-19. The main purpose of getting the shots is to lower the odds of getting really sick. Now research is showing an extra benefit. The vaccine may also help protect people from developing long COVID.
People with long COVID <add link to Long Covid article> still have at least one symptom 4 weeks after a COVID-19 infection. Symptoms can last for many months.
Another benefit of vaccinating children is that it’s good for everyone. Higher vaccination rates can reduce the risk that folks of any age will catch the virus.
“When fewer people are infected with COVID-19, fewer new variants of COVID-19 develop,” Dr. de St. Maurice says. And that can help keep all of us safe and healthy.