There is great news for parents across Texas: children are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Many families will have questions, and I want to answer a few of those here.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children? Yes. COVID-19 vaccines have undergone—and continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. More than 24 million U.S. children have been fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Can children get the virus from the vaccine? No. The vaccine does not contain the live virus, so your child cannot get COVID from the vaccine.
Why are pediatricians recommending children get the vaccine? Our role as pediatricians is to keep our patients safe and healthy. I recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible children and would never recommend something I wouldn’t give to my own child, a family member or a loved one.
Another reason for vaccinating your child is that children can spread the virus to others. There could be family, friends, teachers or classmates who have a health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill. Vaccination can help prevent kids from getting COVID-19 and prevent or reduce the spread of the infection.
Having your child vaccinated for COVID-19 will keep them in school and participating in normal daily activities they enjoy.
Did they rush the testing to get the vaccine approved quickly? No. Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. This includes studies for vaccines like the flu. This work made it possible for scientists to create the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, typically testing and manufacturing of vaccines are done sequentially. But with COVID-19 vaccines, testing and manufacturing were done in parallel, which saved a lot of time and allowed for much quicker availability.
Should my child get vaccinated if they already had COVID? Yes. Evidence shows that there can be added protection by getting vaccinated after having COVID. You may choose to wait three months before vaccinating your child, depending on your circumstances and risk factors. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about when they should get the vaccine.
What are the short-term vaccine side effects? Like with other vaccines, some children have experienced pain at the injection site, fever, chills, tiredness, headache, and joint and muscle pain. These typically last one to three days. The risks of serious long-term effects from getting COVID are much greater than the risks of having serious side effects from the vaccine.
What are the long-term vaccine side effects? Vaccines have been safely given to billions of people worldwide for decades with no long-term side effects, saving countless lives.
Should my child get the vaccine if they have allergies? If your child has a history of severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine then they should not get the vaccine. It’s important to talk to your pediatrician, especially if your child has a history of allergies.
Where can I get my child vaccinated? At your pediatrician’s office and local pharmacies. You can also visit CovidVaccine.texas.gov or call 1-833-832-7067 to find a vaccine near you.
How much does it cost, and does my child need insurance? The vaccine is free for everyone, and no insurance or ID is required.
Can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same time? Yes, children can get the COVID-19 vaccine with other childhood immunizations. If your child is behind on any recommended vaccines, now is a good time to catch up.
*CDC Data, June 2022
Lauren Gambill, MD, MPA, FAAP, is a pediatrician at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas in Austin.