We realize that you may have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. We are planning parent information sessions in the coming weeks where you can learn more and get your questions answered. Here are some frequently asked questions and links to more information.
Is the vaccine safe?
COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 years old are subject to the very same multi-step testing and approval process as all other COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 vaccines ─ including those routinely recommended for childhood vaccination.
Millions of adolescents ages 12-17 and adults have been safely vaccinated, and we know vaccines work. Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant.
Can my child get a COVID-19 vaccine during the same visit with other vaccines?
Yes. Your child can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit. The way our bodies respond to vaccines and create protection will be the same when a child gets a vaccine alone or with another vaccine. You can ask your doctor for more information.
My child hates getting shots. Do they need to get both shots?
Understandably, children don’t like getting shots. However, to get the most protection, every child over 5 should get both shots. You can explain to your child that if they only get the first shot, they won’t be protected the full amount. For the highest level of protection (nearly 100%), they will need to get the second shot as well.
The second shot should come 21 days after the first shot. It’s best to aim to get the second shot on time, but if you are late getting your child’s second vaccine, you will not need to start over.
Let your child know that you understand why they don’t like shots. However, by getting the vaccine, they are protecting themselves and others from getting sick from COVID-19. They are also helping reduce the risk of spreading the pandemic.
Remind them that once they are fully vaccinated, they can begin to get back to the way things were before the pandemic. Being vaccinated allows them to see friends and family safely, and eventually, they won’t have to wear a mask inside.
How can I prepare my child for the vaccination?
We know that children can often express fear about the pain when receiving a shot. Here are some ways you can help:
- Be honest and calm. Explain that the child may feel a little pinch, but that it will go away very fast. Use words like “pressure” or “poke” rather than “pain” or “shot.” Support the child if they cry.
- Find a comfortable position. The child should sit in a caregiver’s lap or lay down during the vaccination, and can continue for comfort during the 15 minute observation period.
- Let the child hold a favorite item. Bring anything that is comforting, like an iPad or a favorite toy, stuffed animal, blanket or book, to help the child focus on something pleasant.
- Distract the child. Right before the shot, play with an iPad, sing the child’s favorite song, tell a story or just act plain silly to pull the child’s attention away from the shot. Keep the distraction going after the vaccine is given.
- If the child is older, ask them to take deep breaths to help “blow out” the pain, imagining that the pain is leaving their mouth.
- Provide care after the shot. Calm the child with hugs, cuddles and soft whispers.
What can I expect after the vaccination?
Your child may have some minor side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects and severe allergic reactions are rare. If your child experiences a severe allergic reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine providers can rapidly provide care and call for emergency medical services, if needed.
Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home after your child gets vaccinated. In general, aspirin is not recommended for use in children and adolescents less than 18 years of age. Placing a cool, damp cloth on the injection site can help with discomfort.
Infographic Source: Centers for Disease Control
How much will it cost for my child to get the vaccine?
The US federal government provides the vaccine for free to all people over the age of 5 who live in the United States. This service is available regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.
No matter where you take your child to get the vaccine, even if it is out of your network, or if your family doesn’t have health insurance, the vaccine is available to every person at no cost.
What happens if my child isn’t vaccinated?
Although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 compared with adults, children can:
- Be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19
- Get very sick from COVID-19
- Have both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19
- Spread COVID-19 to others
Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions. 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.
The consequences of a pediatric COVID-19 case can be serious and potentially last months.Getting accurate information is important and can help stop common vaccine myths and rumors. Talk with your pediatrician about any questions or concerns you may have.
COVID-19 Vaccine Top 5 Questions for Parents (Source: California Department of Public Health)