Frequently Asked Questions about Pediatric vaccines

The CDC recommends that children and adolescents age 6 months and older get a Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and advises children and adolescents age 5 and older who receive the Pfizer vaccine to get a booster dose at least 5 months after their second shot.

As of December 9, 2022, the CDC expanded the use of the updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 5 years. The updated Pfizer vaccine will be used as the third dose in the primary series for children age 6 months through 4 years old. Children ages 6 months through 5 years who previously completed a Moderna primary series are eligible to receive the updated Moderna booster 2 months after their primary series. (See: Booster Doses)

The dose and series authorized for children is informed by clinical trials on safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in these age groups. 

Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization

  • Children age 6 months through 4 years old receive a three-shot series, with two doses spaced three weeks apart and followed by a third at least two months later. The dosage is one-tenth the adult dosage. The third dose in the series is the updated (bivalent) COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Children age 5 to 11 receive a two-shot series spaced three weeks apart. The dosage is one-third the adult dosage. This age group should also get a booster dose at least five months after their second shot. This age group should also get an updated booster dose at least two months after their second shot.
  • Children age 12 to 17 receive a two-shot series spaced three weeks apart. The dosage is the same as the adult dosage. This age group should also get an updated booster dose at least two months after their second shot.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Authorization

  • Children age 6 months through 5 years old receive a two-shot series, with two doses spaced four weeks apart. The dosage is one-quarter of the adult dosage. This age group is also eligible to receive a Moderna bivalent booster dose 2 months after their primary series.
  • Children age 6 to 11 receive a two-shot series, with two doses spaced four weeks apart. The dosage is half the adult dosage. This age group should also receive a Moderna bivalent booster dose 2 months after their primary series.
  • Children age 12 to 17 receive a two-shot series, with two doses spaced four weeks apart. The dosage is the same as the dosage for adults. This age group should also receive a Moderna bivalent booster dose 2 months after their primary series.

The CDC recommends that children and adolescents age 6 months to 17 years who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a three-shot series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. For more information on COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for immunocompromised children and adolescents, follow the CDC’s guidelines here.

Updated December 9, 2022 

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 contracting and spreading the virus.

The vaccine is the best way to protect children from becoming severely ill or having long-lasting health impacts due to COVID-19. While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it is still possible. COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized with COVID-19. 

Another important reason for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect their friends, family, and the broader community from the spread of the virus. The higher the vaccination rates, the lower the chances that the coronavirus will mutate into additional variants. 

Updated June 21, 2022 

Yes. Scientists and medical experts have worked to ensure the vaccine is safe for children and adolescents ages 6 months to 17 years old. Before being authorized for children, these experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials involving thousands of children. What’s more, 22 million children and adolescents, ages 5-17 have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. As of June 18, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are also authorized for children as young as 6 months.

Data from trials will continue to be collected for two years after each vaccine is first administered to ensure that they are safe for the long term. As with all vaccines, there will be ongoing monitoring among people who are vaccinated.

Updated June 21, 2022 

Yes, it is safe for children and adolescents to get a COVID-19 vaccine and other routine vaccines, including the flu shot and other routine pediatric immunizations, during the same visit. The CDC recommends that all children and adolescents age 6 months and older remain up to date with routine vaccinations, and to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible.

Added June 21, 2022 

All the COVID-19 vaccines have undergone a rigorous review process before being authorized for a given age group. The FDA’s evaluation of vaccines for young kids has been part of this overall thorough review process. Clinical trials were not started in children until after the trials in adults showed safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Additionally, part of what made the review process longer for young kids is that experts were determining what dosage and series would be safe and effective for children under five. After reviewing initial data on the effectiveness of the vaccine in young kids, the FDA waited to receive additional findings from clinical trials to ensure that its recommendation was based on a substantial amount of clinical data. 

Updated June 16, 2022 

Side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines are typically mild and subside in one to two days — like soreness in the arm, fatigue, headaches, or a slight 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), and data demonstrate a higher risk for such inflammation among younger males. 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 how to protect your children from COVID-19, about the vaccines, or about myocarditis, speak to your health care provider or pediatrician.

Updated November 3, 2021 

Messaging Resources about Pediatric vaccines

Misinformation Alerts about Pediatric vaccines

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