Ask a Pediatrician: What to know about children and the Covid-19 Vaccine

As the FDA continues to expand vaccine access many parents have concerns about vaccinating their young children. But, the truth is that vaccinations are safe, effective, and key to ending the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Prachi Singh provides her expert opinion on pediatric vaccines and why they are necessary.

Are Covid vaccines safe for children?

Covid-19 vaccine safety protocols are some of the most comprehensive and intense safety monitoring programs in U.S. history. A wealth of research gave rise to today’s Covid vaccines, which are built upon more than 40 years of medical research and technology, stemming from scientific work conducted in the 1980s surrounding HIV and other viruses, such as RSV.

Are Covid vaccines effective?

Research shows that all available Covid-19 vaccines are effective. These vaccines reduce the risk of Covid19 transmission, reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization, and reduce fatalities. Additionally, this November, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their Covid-19 vaccine was 100% effective in preventing infections in 12- to 15-year-olds.

Who can get vaccinated?

Vaccines have been approved for all people ages 5 and up, and boosters are available to all adults over age 18. Vaccine rollout for ages 2-4 is anticipated to begin in January 2022. Trials for infants 6 months old and over are currently underway, with the expectation that this group will be able to receive the vaccine beginning in Summer 2020.

What about side effects?

There are some side effects of the vaccine which let you know that the vaccine is working normally. These mild side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
  • Tiredness, headache, and muscle pain
  • Chills, fever, and nausea

During vaccine trials, a small percent of children experienced side effects, such as myocarditis, following an mRNA vaccine. These side effects were seen mainly in teenage boys, after the second dose of the vaccine. But 100% of cases recovered quickly and do well post-recovery.

Why should my child get vaccinated?

Children are just as likely as adults to become infected with Covid-19 and can experience both short- and long-term health complications. Currently, Covid ranks as one of the top 10 causes of death among children ages 5-11 years old. Unvaccinated people are more likely to get Covid, transmit Covid at a higher rate, and are more likely to experience severe illness that require hospitalization.

Will the vaccine protect my family against new variants?

While data is still preliminary and we are in the process of learning more, most experts believe vaccines will be effective in mitigating severe infections from the Omicron variant. Additionally, early data suggests rapid antigen tests are able to detect the Omicron variant.

How do I know if my child has Covid?

When in doubt, get tested. The only way to know for certain if your child has Covid is to get tested. General symptoms include cough, runny nose, and stomach issues. Severe symptoms include difficulty breathing and high fever. If you or your child develop any symptoms, call your pediatrician, and get your household tested as soon as possible.


Dr. Prachi Singh, DO FAAP is a pediatric infectious disease specialist, mother of two young children, and Assistant Professor at the Department of Infectious Diseases University of California, San Francisco.

If you or your child develop any symptoms, call your pediatrician, and get your household tested as soon as possible.

The views and opinions presented in this article reflect those of its authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of UCSF, Teaching Strategies, LLC, or their members.


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