Parents of young children have carried an especially difficult burden since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Remote learning, daycare closings and other limitations on daily life because of worry about disease spread, especially among the unvaccinated, has made raising a child more difficult and stressful. The availability of a pediatric COVID vaccine for all children age 5 and older can now help change that.
Everyone in the United States ages 5 and older is now eligible to get vaccinated. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend all children 5 and older get a COVID vaccine as soon as possible.
The vaccines are free to all, regardless of health insurance or immigration status. More than 30,000 trusted and convenient locations, such as drugstores or community health centers, offer the pediatric COVID vaccine. You can find a nearby site in one of three ways:
- visiting vaccines.gov
- texting your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX)
- calling 1-800-232-0233.
We understand you may have concerns about the pediatric COVID vaccine, so let’s address some using facts provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
I thought kids weren’t as vulnerable to coronavirus?
Children rarely die or get severely ill from COVID — true. However, scientific study has found they are just as likely to get and spread the disease as adults. This puts everyone an unvaccinated child comes in contact with — their friends, parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. — at greater risk, regardless of that person’s vaccination status.
Need more statistics? One recent study found children are four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID if they live in a state with low vaccination rates compared to states with high vaccination rates.
I keep hearing about vaccinated people still getting COVID. Why should I even bother getting my kids vaccinated?
“Breakthrough” cases of COVID do occur because no vaccine for any disease is a 100% effective. However, COVID vaccines are more than 90% effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. The pediatric COVID vaccine helps protect your child from getting coronavirus but, in the event of a breakthrough case, it also helps keep your child from getting seriously ill. It also helps protect those your child comes in contact with, especially those most at risk such as the elderly or those with compromised autoimmune systems.
Could my child get coronavirus from a pediatric COVID vaccine?
No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID vaccines contain the live virus that causes coronavirus. No live virus, no way to contract COVID via the vaccine.
Some temporary side effects, in children just as in adults, are possible after receiving the vaccine. These are signs the vaccine is working and your child’s body is building protection against the virus. Common side effects include:
- Pain, redness or swelling at the injection site on the body
- Muscle pain
Will a pediatric COVID vaccine alter my child’s DNA?
No. COVID vaccines do not change or interact with your child’s DNA in any way. It is biologically impossible.
Do COVID vaccines affect fertility?
Currently, no evidence indicates that any vaccines, including COVID vaccines, cause fertility problems, in women or men. A recent study showed people who had gotten the COVID vaccine had the same pregnancy success rate as people who had not been vaccinated. The CDC recommends that women trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, get a COVID vaccine. Vaccines are carefully studied and monitored, and it is clear they are safe for people who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant.
Aren’t there some heart issues related to the COVID vaccine in children?
A very small number of cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported following COVID vaccination. Most cases in children have been in adolescent males and most occur after the second vaccine dose.
While these conditions are rare, the available evidence suggests a link with mRNA COVID vaccination. In general, however, the few persons who develop these conditions respond well to medical treatment and rest and recover.
I’m worried because these vaccines are just too new and unproven.
Millions of people have already safely received COVID vaccines since first becoming available in early 2021. These vaccines are the most closely and rigorously monitored vaccines for safety ever in our country and are being monitored just as closely in children.
But I have more concerns …
If you have more questions or concerns, speak with your doctor, pharmacist or health care provider. Note that The American Medical Association reports over 96% of doctors have been fully vaccinated against COVID.
Disclosure: City Dads Group has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide parents with accurate information about pediatric COVID vaccines for those ages 5 to 17. Photo: © angellodeco / Adobe Stock.