Frequently Asked Questions From Parents/Guardians About COVID-19 and the Vaccines
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Who should get a COVID vaccine?
Everyone 6 months or older in the United States should get and stay up to date with their COVID vaccine.
Where can I or my child get vaccinated?
COVID vaccines are available from many pharmacies and health care providers.
You can find vaccines near you at vaccines.gov.
Also check with your child’s health care provider or their school. Schools sometimes provide vaccines to make it easier for students to get vaccinated.
Do I need to give consent before my child can get vaccinated?
Consent laws vary across states and territories. For example, most—but not all—states require vaccine providers to get a parent’s or guardian’s permission to give a vaccine to a child under age 18.
Check with your state/territory health department to find out about local parental/guardian consent requirements.
Vaccine safety and effectiveness
Why should my child get vaccinated?
COVID can sicken people of all ages. There’s no way to predict how your child might be affected by COVID.
Among children under age 18 in the United States who’ve gotten COVID, many have been hospitalized and thousands have died.
Even if your child doesn’t get very sick, a COVID infection could still cause health problems down the road.
Your child can also spread the virus to someone who is at risk for severe illness—like a grandparent, someone at church, a teacher at school, or anyone in your community.
The vaccines work very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID.
How do we know the vaccines are safe for kids?
The COVID vaccines for children have been through rigorous testing and thorough review by the FDA and CDC.
Thousands of children participated in the clinical trials. Among those who received a vaccine, it was shown to be safe and effective at preventing COVID.
COVID vaccines are the most closely monitored vaccines in U.S. history. And the FDA and CDC continue to monitor the safety of COVID vaccines, including among children.
How do COVID vaccines work?
The COVID vaccines available in the United States introduce your immune system to the spike protein found on the surface of the coronavirus.
Your immune system sees the spike protein as an invading germ and reacts by creating cells that will be ready to identify and attack the coronavirus if you’re exposed to it.
The vaccines don’t contain the coronavirus, so you can’t get COVID from them.
Once your immune system is introduced to the spike protein, your body breaks down the vaccine ingredients and gets rid of them.
At no point do the vaccines change or interact with your DNA.
Will I or my child get myocarditis or pericarditis from receiving an mRNA COVID 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.
These kinds of heart inflammation after vaccination are rare.
When they happen, they mostly happen in male adolescents and young adults, typically within several days after mRNA COVID vaccination.
Patients usually recover quickly and respond well to medications and rest.
You’re actually more likely to get heart inflammation if you’re unvaccinated and get sick with COVID. And heart inflammation from COVID tends to be worse than the heart inflammation people have had after vaccination.
Are the COVID vaccines safe for people who want to become pregnant, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding?
Yes. People who are pregnant or were recently pregnant are more likely to get very sick from COVID. There is no evidence that vaccination against COVID leads to complications during pregnancy.
And, there is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
CDC recommends that all people who are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding get and stay up to date with their COVID vaccine.
COVID can be a dangerous disease during pregnancy. It increases the risk of severe illness in pregnant moms and preterm birth for the baby. It might increase risks for other problems during pregnancy.
Getting a COVID vaccine can protect you against severe illness from COVID and help keep your baby safe.
Can someone get a COVID vaccine while on their period?
Yes. 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.
People who menstruate may see small changes in menstruation after COVID vaccination. But these changes don’t last long.
CDC and the FDA have been closely monitoring safety data and haven’t seen any patterns of concern.
Preparing for vaccination
How many vaccine doses does my child need?
The number of doses your child needs to stay up to date with their COVID vaccine and get the best protection depends on their age and which vaccine they get.
Talk to your vaccine or health care provider about when your child needs to get a COVID vaccine dose.
How are COVID vaccines given?
The available COVID vaccines are given as a shot in the upper part of your arm. Infants and toddlers may receive vaccines in their thighs.
What are common side effects from COVID vaccines?
Children who’ve gotten a COVID vaccine have the same common side effects as adults.
Common side effects include:
- Pain, redness, or swelling where you got your shot
- Muscle pain
These side effects are normal and typically last for a couple days after vaccination.
If my child has had COVID, do they need to get vaccinated?
Yes. You should get your child vaccinated against COVID even if they’ve already had COVID.
Having had COVID doesn’t necessarily protect someone against getting infected again.
How can I prepare my child for their COVID vaccine shots?
Getting a shot can be scary for kids. Here are some tips to comfort your child before, during, and after their shot.
- 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.
- 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 down your child for medical procedures.
- 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.
For more information
For more information about COVID and the vaccines, go to cdc.gov/coronavirus.