COVID-19 Vaccination for Children
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older in the US, including pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. Booster doses are recommended for everyone age 5 years and older.
Although COVID-19 tends to be milder in children compared with adults, it can make some children very sick. In some cases, complications from COVID-19 can lead to hospitalization or even death.
The following information addresses frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
Information about COVID-19 vaccines changes rapidly. View the latest information on COVID-19 vaccination from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- What COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children?
- Why should children get vaccinated against COVID-19?
- Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for children?
- What side effects might children have from the vaccines?
- Do children who already had COVID-19 still need to get vaccinated?
- Where can children get vaccinated against COVID-19?
What COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children?
CDC recommends that all children age 6 months and older get vaccinated against COVID-19, and those age 5 years and older get a booster dose at least 2-5 months after the completion of their primary series.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children age 6 months and older. Novavax COVID-19 vaccines are approved for children age 12 years and older.
Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccines are available as a booster dose for children age 12 years and older. Children ages 5-11 years can receive the original (monovalent) vaccine as a booster dose.
Children who are moderately or severely immunocompromised have different recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters.
Why should children get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Although COVID-19 tends to be milder in children compared with adults, it can make some children very sick. In some cases, complications from COVID-19 can lead to hospitalization or even death. Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has been the fifth leading cause of death for children age 6 months-4 years in the US, and among this age group there have been:
- More than 2 million cases of COVID-19
- More than 20,000 hospitalizations
- More than 200 deaths
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect children from getting COVID-19, and from getting seriously ill even if they do get COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination for younger children is a critical opportunity to prevent severe illness, especially among those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including those from certain racial and ethnic groups and children with underlying medical conditions, disabilities, or special healthcare needs.
COVID-19 can lead to both short- and long-term complications for children. Children who get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can also develop serious complications like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for children?
Yes. Before authorizing and approving COVID-19 vaccines for children, experts reviewed safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials with thousands of children. As with all vaccines, there will be ongoing safety monitoring among those who are vaccinated.
What side effects might children have from the vaccines?
Side effects may include a sore arm, pain, swelling or redness at the injection site, fever, fatigue, or other symptoms. These symptoms are normal, should be expected, and are a sign that the body is building immunity. These side effects usually go away in a few days.
Do children who already had COVID-19 still need to get vaccinated?
Yes, CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination regardless of whether or not an individual was previously infected. Vaccination induces a much higher antibody response than natural infection and immunity from the virus decreases over time.
For more information, view Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 Vaccines
Updated September 2022
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration