Pediatric HealthSource: What to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccine and Younger Children

When a child is vaccinated, they are protected, as is their family and others with whom they come into contact.

Dane Snyder, M.D.
As of early 2022, COVID-19 vaccination is available to children ages 5 and older.

Q: With younger kids eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, what do I need to know as a parent?

A: The FDA’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 is an important step in helping to end the pandemic. What parents need to know is that the vaccine is safe, and it works to reduce the chance of getting severely ill with COVID-19 and spreading it to others.

While it might seem that the vaccines for COVID-19 came about too quickly to be safe, the truth is just the opposite. Research has been going on for similar viruses for years, and because the groundwork was already in place, scientists were able to develop vaccines that are effective against COVID-19. The required clinical trials were performed separately in children and adolescents, and data proves their safety and effectiveness. In fact, COVID-19 vaccines have been through the most intensive testing in vaccine history.

Children need to get the vaccine just as adults do. While fewer children have been infected with the virus compared with adults, they can be infected, they can become ill, and they can spread the virus to other people. When your child is vaccinated, they are protected, as is your family and others with whom your child comes into contact.

It is impossible for your child to get COVID-19 from the vaccine. They may have side effects that affect their normal activities after getting the vaccine, just as adults do, but they should feel better in a couple of days. Children receive a smaller dose of the COVID-19 vaccine due to how medication reacts in children’s bodies versus adult bodies.

The COVID-19 vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines, including the flu shot: Our bodies build protection and develop side effects in generally the same way for all vaccines. If you hear or read something that causes doubts, or you need help navigating through all the information out there, your pediatrician is happy to answer questions and debunk myths about your child and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health. For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog: 700childrens.nationwidechildrens.org.

Dane Snyder, M.D., is section chief of primary care pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Dane Snyder, M.D., of Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Talk to Your Child About the Vaccine

Parents can prepare children for the COVID-19 vaccine just like any other vaccine:

  • Be honest. Tell your child what is about to happen and why, using words that are age appropriate.
  • Don’t tell them too early. Older children may need more time to prepare than younger children, who might be better off not being informed until the day of the vaccine.
  • Stay calm. Keeping your own emotions in check is good for everyone. Maintaining a good attitude and helping your child use relaxation techniques, if necessary, can make the experience tolerable.