COVID-19 vaccine informationUpdated November 16, 2021 at 11:27 a.m.
The COVID-19 vaccines are a safe and effective way to prevent illness from COVID-19.
Children's Health℠ patients who are eligible to get vaccinated may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when they come in for their regularly scheduled appointments. If you are interested in having your child vaccinated at Children’s Health, please reach out to your care team.
You can also receive the COVID-19 vaccine at one of these community vaccination sites.
Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and children? Read our vaccine FAQs for parents. You can also watch this virtual town hall to learn more about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines.
When will children be able to get the COVID‑19 vaccine?
Children ages 5 and older are now eligible to get the COVID‑19 vaccine.
Clinical trials are currently determining the safety and effectiveness of the COVID‑19 vaccine in children as young as 6 months old. Clinical trial data may be available in late 2021 or early 2022. It is not yet known when the vaccine will be available for children under the age of 5.
Is the COVID‑19 vaccine for children different than the vaccine for adults?
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine for children ages 12 and older is the same vaccine that is approved for adults. The vaccine is given as a two-shot series, three weeks apart.
The Pfizer COVID‑19 vaccine authorized for children ages 5-11 is the same vaccine as for teens and adults, but it is given in a smaller dose. This smaller dose is due to the development of a child’s immune system, not based on a child's size or weight.
Is the COVID‑19 vaccine safe for children?
Clinical trial data shows that the COVID‑19 vaccine is both safe and effective in children. Safety is a top priority for the vaccine, and the FDA's authorization is based on these safe results.
"These vaccines are very well-tolerated, and millions of doses have been given safely so far," says Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., Director of Infectious Disease at Children's Health and Professor at UT Southwestern.
While acknowledging potential concerns, Dr. Kahn hopes parents will review trustworthy information about the safety and importance of getting the COVID‑19 vaccine for their kids. Doing this research can help dispel common myths about the vaccine.
Why should I vaccinate my child if their risk from COVID‑19 is low?
While the risk of severe COVID‑19 in children is lower compared to adults, that risk is not zero. In this situation, Dr. Kahn encourages parents to examine the risks and benefits of having their children vaccinated for COVID‑19 versus potentially catching COVID‑19 itself.
"The risk of severe disease or complications due to COVID‑19 is higher than any potential risks posed by the vaccine – even for kids," he says. "Given this, and the benefits of vaccination, I hope parents will see the importance of vaccinating their children."
What are the benefits of vaccinating children for COVID‑19?
The COVID‑19 vaccine is very effective at preventing illness from COVID‑19. Benefits of vaccinating children against COVID‑19 include:
1. Protecting children from illness: While children are at lower risk of severe illness from COVID‑19, they are not immune to illness. In addition, the long-term effects of COVID‑19 in children are not yet known. In some people, COVID‑19 has caused long-lasting symptoms, including fatigue, difficulty breathing, joint pain and even depression and anxiety. COVID‑19 has also been linked to cases of a rare, potentially serious condition known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
2. Protecting the community: Children can and do get infected with COVID‑19, and they can and do spread the virus to others. From a community health standpoint, it's very important to have children vaccinated.
"This is a very contagious virus, and we need a high level of immunity to stop its spread," explains Dr. Kahn. "Children under 18 represent about a quarter of the U.S. population. We are never going to achieve herd immunity if we don't immunize children."
This is especially important for protecting high-risk individuals. "If someone in your household has a weakened immune system, you want to make sure everybody around them is immunized," he explains.
3. Preventing COVID‑19 variants: Stopping the spread of COVID‑19 is extremely important for stopping new variants from emerging. The more the virus spreads from person to person, the more chance it has to mutate into a potentially more infectious or dangerous strain.
"If we can stop the circulation of the virus through immunization, we're going to reduce the likelihood that more virulent viruses emerge," Dr. Kahn says. "Getting children vaccinated is key to having this happen."
4. Improving well-being for children: Finally, by vaccinating children and reducing outbreaks, communities can move one step closer to regular, non-interrupted school schedules, sports, playdates and extracurricular activities for kids. This is vital to improving the physical and mental health of children who have been missing those opportunities for the past year.
Are there side effects of the COVID‑19 vaccine in children?
Children may experience some of the same COVID‑19 vaccine side effects reported in adults, including:
- Muscle pain
- Pain in the arm near the shot site
These side effects may be more common after the second dose and are a sign that your body is building protection. Side effects typically go away within 1-2 days after vaccination.
Is the vaccine safe for children with chronic health conditions?
Yes, the COVID‑19 vaccine is safe and recommended for children with chronic health conditions.
Children with underlying medical conditions – including diabetes, sickle cell disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, kidney disease and more – may be more likely to get severely ill if they get COVID‑19. Therefore, it's even more important that these children receive the vaccine.
Should my child get the COVID‑19 vaccine if they already had COVID‑19?
Yes, your child should get the COVID‑19 vaccine even if they already had COVID‑19. Studies have shown that the vaccines can trigger a COVID‑19 immune response stronger than the one naturally present in people who had COVID‑19.
"What's striking from the data is that the vaccine is actually doing a better job than nature in terms of inducing immunity," Dr. Kahn says.
As a result, Dr. Kahn says children who have already had COVID‑19 should get the vaccine, as it will help boost their immune response and ensure they are protected.
Will my child need to get a yearly shot for COVID‑19?
It is not yet known if children will need to get a COVID‑19 vaccine every year, similar to an annual flu shot. Researchers are currently learning more about how long immunity lasts from the vaccine, and how effective the vaccine is against new variants. Both these factors will influence recommendations for booster shots.
Currently, the CDC recommends that certain groups of adults receive a COVID‑19 booster shot (see more information here). In addition, those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised received an additional dose of mRNA COVID‑19 vaccine after the initial doses. An additional dose should be administered at least 28 days after a second dose.