COVID Vaccinations for Kids: FAQs
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, one of the few silver linings was news that children were less likely than adults to develop life-threatening complications from the virus.
Yes, kids and teens could develop serious complications, and yes, we’re still learning about many of the long-term effects the virus can have on people’s health. But, the fact that our children were generally safer (relatively speaking) than adults throughout the pandemic allowed us to focus our efforts on protecting other, more vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.
So why, then, are health professionals, including our team at Rainbow Pediatrics of Fayetteville, now strongly suggesting kids and teens 12 years and older get their COVID-19 vaccinations?
With all the unknowns and mixed messages we’ve gotten throughout the pandemic, we empathize with this question. So below, we’ve provided our best answers to common frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 vaccinations for kids and teens.
And, always know we’re here to answer any other questions you might have. Simply reach out any time.
FAQs About the COVID Vaccination for Kids
Q: Who is eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccination?
A: Since early May of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC officially expanded the emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15 years old. So today, any youth 12 or older is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Q: Should my child get vaccinated for COVID-19?
A: If she or he is 12 years or older, then yes. While it’s true, symptoms from the virus are generally milder for kids and teens, some can still get very sick and develop significant complications. Also, medical researchers are just skimming the surface when it comes to realizing the long-term effects having COVID-19 can have on the body and people’s long-term health and wellness. In addition, by getting vaccinated, your child will be helping curb the overall spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Q: But, is the vaccination safe?
A: Yes. Like many other vaccinations, those who receive the COVID-19 vaccination can experience some side effects; none of them are considered serious. Most commonly, kids who receive the vaccination reported pain at the injection site (91%), being tired over the next day (78%), and developing a headache (76%). Other side effects, particularly after the second dose, mimic those experienced by some adults: chills (49%), muscle pain (42%), and to a lesser extent, slight fever or nausea.
While rare, allergic reactions are possible, as with any medication. Before administering the vaccine, health care professionals will screen for a history of such reactions, then make your child stick around for 15 or more minutes after the shot to monitor for a reaction.
Q: Did you say second dose? So, kids also get two doses?
A: Yes. The COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine is administered to kids the same as it is administered to adults: two doses injected in the arm two weeks apart. Like other vaccinations, the injections trigger an immune system response during which the body develops COVID-fighting antibodies. However, these antibodies vastly lower the risk of contracting COVID-19. Therefore, your child will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after his or her second dose.
Q: So, are vaccines effective?
A: Yes. So far – from the initial trials to real-world use, the vaccines have been highly effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in adolescents and teens. They’ve also helped in preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death tied to the pandemic. Over the long term is where it gets a bit murky, however. Scientists are still studying the long-term effectiveness of the vaccine and the potential need for future “boosters.”
Q: I heard the COVID-19 vaccine can affect fertility in adolescents. Is this true?
A: There’s no evidence of this – not from the COVID-19 vaccine or any other vaccine. This vaccine won’t affect puberty or reproductive development.
Q: Can the vaccine alter my child’s DNA?
A: No. Some rumors have suggested the active ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine, a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), can alter a person’s DNA. This is not true. The mRNA in the vaccine doesn’t enter the nucleus of our cells, which is where our DNA is stored. Instead, the mRNA molecules simply provide instructions to our body on how to make a viral protein that will trigger an immune response. Once these proteins are made, the mRNA is broken down and is permanently flushed from our bodies.
Q: Will children under 12 become eligible for the vaccine?
A: Clinical studies are already underway for the age groups 5 to 11 and 2 to 5, but this takes time. If all goes well, though, signs point to this becoming a possibility by this fall. We’re confident this development will be highly reported in the news, so stay tuned.
Q: How can I get my adolescent vaccinated for COVID-19?
A: As luck would have it, the COVID-19 vaccination lines we used to see on the news are becoming a thing of the past. Those eager to get vaccinated have already received their shot. If you have a child who’s 12 years old or older who needs a COVID-19 vaccination, you can get them in our four Fayetteville-area clinics. Simply contact us to schedule an appointment.