Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination for Children and Teens
Benefits of Vaccinating Your Child
The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.
Children who get COVID-19 can get very sick, can require treatment in a hospital, and in rare situations, can even die. After getting COVID-19, children and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. Getting eligible children vaccinated can help prevent them from getting really sick even if they do get infected and help prevent serious short- and long-term complications of COVID-19.
Vaccinating children can also keep them in school and daycare and safely participating in sports, playdates, and other group activities.
COVID-19 can make children and teens of any age very sick and sometimes requires treatment in a hospital. In rare situations, the complications from COVID-19 can lead to death. There is no way to tell in advance how children will be affected by COVID-19. Although children with underlying medical conditions are more likely to get severe COVID-19, healthy children without underlying conditions can also experience severe illness.
After getting COVID-19, children and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. These post-COVID conditions can be physical or mental, last for weeks and affect quality of life.
- Why Children and Teens Should Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19
- People with Certain Medical Conditions
Emerging evidence indicates that people can get added protection by getting vaccinated after having been infected with COVID-19. So, even if a child has had COVID-19, they should still get vaccinated.
Safety of COVID-19 Vaccination for Children
Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials with thousands of children to make sure vaccination was safe and effective.
Tens of millions of children and teens ages 5 through 17 years have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and ongoing safety monitoring shows that COVID-19 vaccination continues to be safe for children and teens.
Reported side effects tend to be mild, temporary and like those experienced after routine vaccination. Serious reactions after COVID-19 vaccination in children are rare. When they are reported, serious reactions most frequently occur the day after vaccination.
The ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines currently available for adults, adolescents, and children vary by manufacturer.
- Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety
- Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety
- Ingredients Included in COVID-19 Vaccines
None of the vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth alloys. They are also free from manufactured products such as microelectronics, electrodes, carbon nanotubes, or nanowire semiconductors.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved in the United States contain any live virus.
No. mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and do not interact with DNA in any way. mRNA vaccines teach the body how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Then, the body gets rid of the mRNA within a few days after vaccination.
No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, can cause female or male fertility problems. There is no evidence that vaccine ingredients, including mRNA, or antibodies made following COVID-19 vaccination would cause any problems with becoming pregnant now or in the future. Similarly, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects puberty.
Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after children and teens got a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. New studies have shown the rare risk of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with mRNA COVID-19 vaccination—mostly among males between the ages of 12 and 39 years—may be further reduced with a longer time between the first and second dose.
COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. CDC continues to monitor all COVID-19 vaccines after they are authorized or approved for use with new and established safety monitoring systems. Parents and caregivers can register and enroll their child in v-safe, which provides personalized and confidential health check-ins after COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, patients, caregivers, and vaccine providers can report serious health events occurring after vaccination to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). CDC and FDA review VAERS data to identify potential safety concerns.
CDC and FDA continue to monitor vaccines, keep people informed of findings, and use data to make COVID-19 vaccination recommendations.
Getting Children Vaccinated
Everyone ages 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 booster shot. Currently a booster shot is not recommended for children younger than 12 years of age. Learn more about booster shots.
COVID-19 vaccine dosage is based on age on the day of vaccination, not on size or weight. Children receive a smaller, age-appropriate dose.
Parents and caregivers can use vaccines.gov to find doctor’s offices, local pharmacies, healthcare clinics, and local health departments where the COVID-19 vaccine for children who are eligible is available. This free resource provides accurate and up-to-date information about vaccination services in your area. You can also text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you in the U.S.
There is no federal legal requirement for a parent, guardian, or caregiver to consent for COVID-19 or any other vaccination. However, this does not mean that consent is not required for select age groups. State or local laws and policies, as well as vaccine provider policies, around minor consent for vaccination have existed for a long time and will also apply to COVID-19 vaccination of children.
For information on caregiver consent for COVID-19 vaccination for youth experiencing homelessness, visit COVID-19 Vaccination for People Experiencing Homelessness: Frequently Asked Questions.
Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone 5 years and older at no cost. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be given to all eligible people living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status. While a vaccination site may ask to see your health insurance card, it is not required for your child to receive a vaccine.
Yes, all vaccine recipients, including children ages 5 through 11 years, will receive a CDC COVID-19 vaccination card upon initial vaccination. Parents should take a photo of the card and then keep it in a safe place.
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Children
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to people ages 12 years and older but contains a lower dose (10 micrograms) than the vaccine used for older children and adults (30 micrograms). The lower dose was rigorously tested by the manufacturer and found to create the needed immune response for this age group. Your child should get the vaccine made for their age group.
Buffers help maintain a vaccine’s pH and allow the vaccine to remain stable at refrigerated temperatures. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years uses a different buffer than the vaccine for people 12 years and older. A different buffer allows the vaccine to remain at refrigerated temperatures longer than the vaccine for older children, adolescents, and adults. The COVID-19 vaccine for children contains tromethamine (Tris) –a commonly used buffer in other medications and vaccines (including the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that tromethamine does not present any safety or effectiveness concerns for children or adults.