Kids and COVID-19
What You Need to Know
- COVID-19 is still here in New York State. It is especially dangerous for babies, toddlers, and children and teens of all ages who are not yet vaccinated.
- Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shows that pediatric cases continue to increase.
- In fact, since the pandemic began, more than 13 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the AAP.
- The truth is, COVID-19 can make children—including babies and infants—very sick. It can sometimes require treatment in a hospital.
- You can protect your baby, toddler, or child from COVID-19 by making sure they stay up to date with all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses.
- The COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.S. are safe, effective, and recommended for all eligible children, including babies and toddlers 6 months – 4 years of age.
- Your child can't get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines.
- The vaccines cannot cause fertility issues for your child, and the vaccines cannot change their DNA.
- Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit or at separate visits, without any waiting period between vaccines.
Keep Your Child Safe From COVID-19
COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to keep babies, toddlers, and children and teens of all ages safe from COVID-19 and its complications.
Getting eligible children vaccinated against COVID-19 can help keep them:
- From getting really sick if they do get COVID-19
- In school or daycare
- Safely participating in sports, playdates, and other group or family activities
Just like adults, babies, toddlers, and children of all ages can:
- Get very sick from COVID-19
- Develop both short- and long-term health problems
- Spread COVID-19 to others, including at home and school
- Children with underlying medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, sickle cell disease, and asthma or chronic lung disease are especially at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
Getting Vaccinated Helps Prevent Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)
- COVID-19 vaccination reduced the likelihood of MIS-C in children ages 12–18 years by 91%.
- Data from July to December 2021 show that 95% of children ages 12 through 18 years hospitalized with MIS-C were not vaccinated.
- Children who get COVID-19 can develop serious complications like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).
- MIS-C is a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
- Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of cases of MIS-C have been reported, including in New York State.
- Children ages 5 through 11 years are most frequently affected by MIS-C, with almost half of all reported cases occurring in children in this age group.
- In addition, Hispanic or Latino and non-Hispanic Black children are disproportionately affected by MIS-C.
Children Can Experience Ongoing Health Problems after COVID-19
After getting COVID-19, children—including babies and toddlers—and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. These include physical and mental health complications that may occur four or more weeks after initial infection. These complications can appear after mild or severe COVID-19, or after MIS-C.
Symptoms that children and teens may experience after COVID-19 are like those seen in adults and include:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Trouble concentrating
Post-COVID symptoms can affect your child’s quality of life, including:
- Limitations in physical activity
- Mental health challenges
- Feeling distressed about symptoms
- Decreased school or daycare attendance
- Missed opportunities for participation with family or in sports, playdates, or other activities
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine for children from trusted sources:
Children ages 6 months - 17 years are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your child’s age, they may be eligible for both, and parents and guardians can choose which vaccine they’d like their child to receive.
The amount of vaccine or number of doses is based on vaccine type and your child’s age. All of the COVID-19 vaccines available for children 6 months and older are safe, effective, and recommended.
Eligibility for vaccines available for children 6 months of age and older include:
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine:
- Children 6 months – 4 years of age are eligible for three shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The initial two doses are administered three weeks apart, followed by a third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose.
- Children 5 years of age and older are eligible for the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has already been authorized and available for children 5 years and older.
- Children 5 years of age and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive an additional dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 28 days after the final dose (second dose) of their initial, primary vaccine series.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine:
Children 6 months – 5 years of age are eligible for two shots of the Moderna vaccine, given one month apart.
- Children 5 years of age and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised should receive an additional dose of the Moderna vaccine at least 28 days after the final dose (second dose) of their initial, primary vaccine series.
Children 5 years of age and older should receive a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least 5 months after completing their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine series. Boosters for children who have received Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as their primary series are not eligible for a booster dose at this time.
Prepare for Your Child's Visit
- Get tips for how to support your baby or child before, during, and after the visit.
- Talk to your child before the visit about what to expect.
- It's okay to ask questions. Talk to your child's doctor, health care provider or a trusted licensed medical professional in your community about concerns you many have. You can also visit the dedicated resources and FAQs.
- Tell the doctor or nurse about any allergies your child may have.
- Comfort your child during the appointment.
- To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, your child should be seated or lying down during vaccination and for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.
- After your child’s COVID-19 vaccination, you will be asked to stay for 15–30 minutes so your child can be observed in case they have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate treatment.
Development & Safety
Safety is a top priority in the development of any vaccine and COVID-19 vaccines are no exception. The U.S. has a robust vaccine safety system in place to ensure that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is always closely monitored during clinical trials of vaccine candidates. After a vaccine is authorized or approved for use by the FDA, vaccine safety monitoring systems watch for adverse events (possible side effects). This ongoing monitoring can pick up on adverse events that may not have been seen in clinical trials. If an unexpected adverse event is seen, experts quickly study it further to see if it is a true safety concern. Experts then decide whether changes are needed in U.S. vaccine recommendations.
Only one COVID-19 vaccine is available for children age 5 - 17: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The FDA expanded its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to include 12- to 15-year-olds on May 10, 2021. On May 12, New York's COVID-19 Clinical Advisory Task Force unanimously recommended to immediately implement expanded use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds. On August 23, 2021, the FDA announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been fully approved for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals age 16 and older. The FDA-licensed vaccine will be marketed under the name Comirnaty, but nothing about its ingredients have changed. On November 3, 2021, the CDC recommended children ages 5 – 11 eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine remains available under emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 through 15 years of age. Before the FDA expanded its EUA, it studied available safety data from an ongoing randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial in the United States that included 2,260 participants ages 12 through 15. More than half of the participants were followed for safety for at least two months following the second dose. Millions of Americans have already been vaccinated, including millions of adolescents ages 12-17.
Side Effects & Reporting Adverse Events
Possible Side Effects
Your child may not notice any changes in how they feel after getting the vaccine. But it’s also possible to feel a little “under the weather.” This can happen after any vaccine. After the COVID-19 vaccine, your child may have:
- A sore arm where they got the shot
- A headache
- Nausea and vomiting
These side effects are not dangerous and are just a sign of your child’s immune system doing its job. They are easily treatable with over-the-counter pain medicine and fever reducers, and usually only last for a short period of time. If your child still doesn’t feel well after two or three days, you can reach out to their health care provider.
Myocarditis and Pericarditis
Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents and young adults have been reported more often after getting the second dose than after the first dose of one of these two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. These reports are rare and the known and potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks, including the possible risk of myocarditis or pericarditis.
Adverse Event Reporting
The CDC tracks adverse event using their Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS is an early warning system used to monitor adverse events that happen after any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccinations. It is the frontline system of the nation's comprehensive and robust vaccine safety monitoring program. The CDC and the FDA use VAERS to help ensure all vaccines are safe.
VAERS collects reports of possible adverse events that happen after vaccination. As a condition of a vaccine’s use under Emergency Use Authorization, the FDA requires healthcare professionals to report to VAERS certain adverse events that occur after COVID-19 vaccination. However, anyone can submit a report to VAERS, including patients, family members, healthcare providers, and vaccine manufacturers, even if it isn’t clear if the vaccine caused the health problem. Learn more about VAERS.
The CDC has also created v-safe, a free, smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after your child receives a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can report any side effects your child may have after vaccination. V-safe also reminds you to get your child's second dose. Learn more about v-safe.