These materials may be updated to align with the latest CDC guidance about COVID-19 vaccines. Learn about the new guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions From Camp Parents/Guardians About COVID and the Vaccines

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Vaccine availability 

Who can get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Everyone ages 5 and older in the United States can get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccines are free for everyone, regardless of your immigration status. You also don’t need health insurance.

Where can I or my child get vaccinated? 

COVID-19 vaccines are available from many pharmacies and health care providers.

You have three ways to find vaccines near you:

  • Visit vaccines.gov
  • Text your ZIP code to 438829
  • Call 1-800-232-0233

Vaccine safety and effectiveness

Why should my child get vaccinated?

COVID-19 can be dangerous for your child. Since the pandemic began, 7 in 10 children under age 18 in the United States have likely been infected with COVID-19. Among those children:

Children with certain health issues have a greater chance of getting very sick from COVID-19, including:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sickle cell disease

COVID-19 can also cause multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. It’s a rare but serious illness that involves painful swelling in different parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, and brain. More than 8,200 children with COVID-19 have also had MIS-C; 68 of those children have died.

Even if your child has a mild case of COVID-19, your child can still have long-term health problems.

Estimates vary, but as many as 1 in 4 children who get COVID-19 can have new or lingering symptoms that last for weeks or months after infection. Common symptoms include:

  • Sleep problems
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Joint and muscle pain

There’s no way to know how COVID-19 will affect your child. Even if your child is perfectly healthy, your child can still get very sick from COVID-19. Almost half of children hospitalized with COVID-19 had no other health issues.

Vaccination is the best thing you can do to protect your child from the dangers of COVID-19.

How do we know the vaccines are safe for kids?

You can trust that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

The COVID-19 vaccine for kids was thoroughly tested in thousands of children, and the FDA and CDC closely reviewed the data. Among those who received the vaccine, it was shown to be safe.

More than 27 million children ages 5–17 in the United States have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. Real-world evidence confirms the vaccine’s safety.

COVID-19 vaccines are the most closely monitored vaccines in U.S. history, and the FDA and CDC continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, including among children.

If your child is allergic to any ingredients in the vaccines, their health care provider can help you decide if it’s safe for your child to get one of the vaccines.

Can the vaccines cause long-term health problems?

There’s no evidence that any vaccine available in the United States, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause long-term health problems.

A COVID-19 vaccine won’t harm your child’s growth and development, including as your child goes through puberty.

There’s also nothing in the COVID-19 vaccine for children that is known to cause long-term health problems. The main ingredient, mRNA, is a molecule naturally found in every cell of your body that has instructions for your cells to make proteins (cells are like 3D printers for proteins). The mRNA in the vaccine has instructions for making a harmless protein specific to the virus that causes COVID-19. Once your cells make the protein, the mRNA goes away, like a Snapchat message. The other vaccine ingredients are in the foods your child eats every day—fats, sugars, and salts.

Will I or my child get myocarditis or pericarditis from receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine?

On very rare occasions, people have had myocarditis or pericarditis following vaccination with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Myocarditis and pericarditis are two kinds of heart inflammation that can cause symptoms like chest pain, a fast or hard heartbeat, and shortness of breath.

When this happens, it mostly occurs in male adolescents and young adults (almost never in children ages 5–11).

Most people treated for heart inflammation after vaccination feel better quickly.

Heart inflammation is much more likely from COVID-19 than from a COVID-19 vaccine.  Also, heart inflammation from COVID-19 tends to be worse than the heart inflammation people have experienced after vaccination. This is why the American Heart Association recommends that everyone get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Can someone get a COVID-19 vaccine while on their period?

There’s no reason to put off getting vaccinated if someone is on their period, according to CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. CDC and the FDA have been closely monitoring safety data and haven’t seen any patterns of concern.

Is the vaccine working if you can still get COVID-19?

The COVID-19 vaccine for children is working as intended. Real-world evidence shows that vaccination:

  • Reduces the risk of infection across age groups, including children.
  • Works very well to prevent the worst outcomes from the disease:
    • Severe illness
    • Hospitalization
    • Death
  • Reduces your chances of getting MIS-C or long COVID-19 even if you get infected.

Preparing for vaccination

How many vaccine doses will my child need?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires 2 initial doses, given at least 21 days apart.

If your child is age 5 or older, they should get a booster shot at least 5 months after their 2nd dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to keep up their protection against severe COVID-19.

When should my child get vaccinated to be ready for camp?

To ensure your child has the best possible protection, they should get their 2nd vaccine dose at least 2 weeks before the start of their camp session. If your child is eligible for a booster dose, they should get theirs before camp starts.

If my child has had COVID-19, do they need to get vaccinated?

Yes. You should get your child vaccinated against COVID-19 even if they’ve already had COVID-19.

Having had COVID-19 doesn’t necessarily protect someone from getting infected again.

How can I prepare my child for their COVID-19 vaccine shots?

Getting a shot can be scary for kids. Here are some tips to comfort your child before, during, and after their shot.

Before

  • Talk to them honestly about what to expect:
    • Shots sometimes pinch or sting a little bit, but only for a short time.
    • If you take a deep breath, you can blow out the sting before you can count to five.
    • We all need vaccines to keep us safe from germs that might make us sick.
  • Don’t give your child pain relievers before vaccination.

During

  • Comfort—don’t scold—your child if they cry, and avoid using shots as a threat.
  • Let your child bring a favorite toy or blanket to hug during the injection.
  • You can distract them with a story, video, or conversation.
  • Ask the vaccine provider if they have a numbing ointment or spray to apply before the shot.
  • Use comforting positions, such as holding your child on your lap. Avoid laying your child down flat, and never pin your child down for medical procedures.

After

  • Hug and praise your child.
  • Tell them their body is already making germ fighters to keep them safe and healthy.
  • A reward like a sweet treat or sticker can be motivating.
  • To help reduce pain and swelling, you can apply a cool, damp cloth on the arm where your child got their shot.
  • Ask your child’s health care provider if it’s OK for them to take their normal pain reliever if they have side effects, such as headache or fever. Most side effects go away on their own within a few days.
  • Sign your child up for v-safe, a free and confidential smartphone-based tool you can use to report any side effects your child may have after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.