COVID-19 Vaccines & Kids
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals answer parents’ questions about the vaccine.
Can my child get a COVID-19 vaccine? Which one?
Yes, if your child is at least 5 years of age. Currently, the only vaccine option for kids is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (also known by its brand name, Comirnaty).
My child is under 5. When can younger kids get vaccinated?
Clinical trials are currently evaluating COVID-19 vaccines in children as young as 6 months. These trials must be completed and reviewed before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can determine whether the vaccines are safe and effective for younger kids.
In the meantime, younger kids should continue taking precautions, such as wearing a mask (ages 2+), avoiding crowds (particularly indoors), and maintaining a safe distance from anyone not in their household. Making sure older kids and adults in the home get vaccinated also protects children from the virus.
Who shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Anyone who’s had a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of a COVID vaccine—or to any of its ingredients—shouldn’t get that type of vaccine.
Children who have allergies—such as to pollen, specific medications, or pet dander—should get the vaccine when they’re eligible but should remain at the vaccination site for 30 minutes after getting their injection, instead of the 15 minutes that most people are asked to wait.
There are some reasons for delaying your child’s vaccination, such as the following circumstances:
• Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should wait until the symptoms have resolved and self-isolation is no longer required.
• Kids who recently had COVID-19 and were treated with antibody-based therapies (such as monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma) should wait 90 days after treatment.
• People diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome should wait until they are recovered and at least 90 days have passed since their diagnosis.
• People with a known COVID-19 exposure should wait until their quarantine is over. However, if they live in a group setting, such as a homeless shelter, they may be vaccinated during the quarantine period.
What side effects might my child have from the vaccine?
Adolescents appear to experience side effects similar to those of adults. Some have no side effects, while others develop one or more of the following:
• Pain at the injection site
• Muscle or joint pain
As with adults, kids are more likely to have side effects after the second dose, and the symptoms typically fade within a day or two. If your child is uncomfortable after getting the vaccine, it’s fine to give a dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen. We don’t recommend giving pain relief medication before the shot to prevent side effects.
Does my fully vaccinated child need to continue taking precautions?
The rapid spread of the Delta variant led many public health agencies to update their guidance on this issue. The California Department of Public Health currently advises everyone to wear a mask in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends indoor masking in areas of “substantial or high transmission.” Masks continue to be mandatory in health care facilities and on public transportation, such as planes and buses.
More information is available on the California Department of Public Health website and the CDC website.
Reprinted, with permission, from ucsfbenioffchildrens.org.