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.

Updated November 8, 2023 

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.

Updated November 9, 2023 

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.

Updated November 9, 2023 

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.

Updated November 9, 2023 

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.

Updated November 9, 2023 

Messaging Resources about Pediatric Vaccines

Misinformation Alerts about Pediatric Vaccines

Posts criticize pediatrician offices’ refusal to treat unvaccinated patients

Several social media posts share stories from parents whose unvaccinated children were not allowed in pediatricians’ offices because of their vaccination status. Many comments offer support in finding doctors who accept unvaccinated patients and encourage parents to distrust pediatricians who encourage vaccination.  Recommendation: Low Risk About Us The Public Health Communications Collaborative (PHCC) was developed

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Post makes false claims about children, COVID-19, and vaccines

A trending post repeated the debunked claim that COVID-19 vaccines are 50 times more likely to kill children than the disease. The post also falsely claims that no healthy children died from COVID-19.  Recommendation: Medium Risk About Us The Public Health Communications Collaborative (PHCC) was developed in response to the urgent need for timely, relevant,

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Anti-vaccine site claims that pediatric deaths are linked to COVID-19 vaccines

An anti-vaccine organization published an article baselessly claiming that there are more pediatric deaths from COVID-19 vaccines than VAERS indicates. In the piece, a person claiming to be a “VAERS analyst” alleges babies are “dying suddenly.” Posts sharing the article discourage parents from vaccinating their children.  Recommendation: Medium Risk About Us The Public Health Communications

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