Several posters responded to news of young children dying from flu complications by baselessly claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines weakened the children’s immune systems. One post also blames masks and social distancing for the alleged “damaged immune systems.” Recommendation: Medium Risk
Frequently Asked Questions about Pediatric Vaccines
The CDC recommends that all children and adolescents, age 6 months and older, complete their age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccine series. This vaccine series will provide the best possible protection against severe illness.
The recommended dose(s) depends on a child’s age, COVID-19 vaccine history, and vaccine type (e.g., Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or Novavax). These recommendations are informed by clinical trials on safety and effectiveness of the vaccines for children age 6 months and older.
Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization
- Unvaccinated children age 6 months through 4 years: Children in this group should complete a two-dose series as soon as possible.
- Vaccinated children age 6 months through 4 years: Children who have received any number of previous Moderna doses should receive the remaining dose to complete the vaccine series.
- Children age 5 years and older: Children in this group should get one dose of the most recently available Moderna vaccine as soon as possible.
Moderna vaccination timing: In most cases, the first and second doses should be spaced at least four to eight weeks apart. At least two months after completing the primary series, children who have not received the updated Moderna vaccine should receive their third dose.
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization
- Unvaccinated children age 6 months through 4 years: Children in this group should complete a three-dose series as soon as possible.
- Vaccinated children age 6 months through 4 years: Children who have received any number of previous Pfizer-BioNTech doses should receive the remaining dose(s) to complete the vaccine series.
- Children age 5 years and older: Children in this group should get one dose of the most recently available Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as soon as possible.
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination timing: In most cases, the first and second doses should be spaced at least three to eight weeks apart. At least two months after the second dose, children should get their third dose to complete their primary COVID-19 vaccine series. Children who have completed their primary series, but have not received the most recently available Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, should receive their fourth dose at least two months after their third dose.
Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization
- Unvaccinated adolescents and teens age 12 years and older: Children in this group should complete a two-dose series as soon as possible.
- Vaccinated adolescents and teens age 12 years and older: Children who have received any number of previous vaccine doses should receive one dose of the most recently available Novavax vaccine to complete the vaccine series.
Novavax vaccination timing: If a child has not previously been vaccinated with any COVID-19 vaccine, the first and second Novavax doses should be received three weeks apart. If a child has previously received one or more of the COVID-19 vaccine doses, a single updated Novavax dose should be received at least two months after the last dose.
Recommendations for Children with Compromised Immune Systems
The CDC recommends that children and adolescents age 6 months to 17 years who have moderately or severely compromised immune systems get vaccinated as outlined in the COVID-19 vaccination schedule, according to their age and immune status at the time of dose eligibility. This means that one to three doses may be necessary depending on vaccination history and personal health status. For more information on COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for immunocompromised children and adolescents, follow the CDC’s guidelines here.
COVID-19 is among the top 10 causes of pediatric death in the U.S. Medical and public health experts, including the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend that children and adolescents age 6 months and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect them from serious illness.
The vaccine is the best way to protect children from becoming severely ill or having long-lasting health impacts from COVID-19. While the risk of children and adolescents becoming severely ill or hospitalized is lower than the risk for adults, tens of thousands of children have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and the effects of the virus are unpredictable.
Yes, researchers and medical experts have worked to ensure the vaccine is safe for children and adolescents age 6 months to 17 years old. COVID-19 vaccines have continued to be proven safe and effective for children because of medical expert reviews of the clinical trial data and multi-year monitoring of thousands of vaccinated children.
Health agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will continue to monitor the health data of clinical trial participants for two years after each vaccine is first administered to ensure their safety for the long term. As with all vaccines, these agencies will also continue monitoring the public’s health to ensure vaccine safety and effectiveness.
Yes, it is safe for children and adolescents to get a COVID-19 vaccine and other routine vaccines, including the flu vaccine, during the same visit. The CDC recommends that all children and adolescents remain up-to-date with routine vaccinations, and those age 6 months and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
For additional and more personalized information about pediatric vaccine administration options, caregivers should contact their child’s healthcare provider.
Side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, similar to other routine vaccinations, are typically mild and subside in a few days. Common experiences include soreness and swelling in the injected arm or leg, chills, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, headaches, and a mild fever.
The risk of a child having a serious adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is very low. One rare complication that has been linked to the COVID-19 vaccine is myocarditis (inflammation of the heart). Data demonstrates a higher risk for such inflammation amongst male children and adolescents. However, reports of these complications are rare. The risk of developing myocarditis after a COVID-19 infection is much higher than the risk of developing myocarditis after the vaccine.
If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, myocarditis, or how to protect your children from COVID-19, speak to your healthcare provider or pediatrician.
Messaging Resources about Pediatric Vaccines
Misinformation Alerts about Pediatric Vaccines
False claims about childhood vaccine safety continue to circulate on social media. One trending post shares an anecdote about children suffering from dizziness after receiving three immunizations at a school vaccine clinic. The post questions why parents allow their children to receive multiple vaccines. Recommendation: Medium Risk
A physician who founded an anti-COVID-19 vaccine organization claims that children do not need COVID-19 vaccines, which she calls experimental. She also claims that doctors receive financial incentives to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Recommendation: Medium Risk