Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
UPDATE
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.
UPDATE
The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. More information is available here.
UPDATE
Travel requirements to enter the United States are changing, starting November 8, 2021. More information is available here.

Why Children and Teens Should Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Why Children and Teens Should Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Updated July 21, 2022
What You Need to Know
  • COVID-19 can make children and teens of any age very sick and can sometimes require treatment in a hospital. Some children and teens have even died from COVID-19.
  • The benefit of COVID-19 vaccines, like other vaccines, is that those vaccinated get protection without risking the potentially serious consequences of getting sick with COVID-19.
  • Help protect children from severe disease, hospitalization, or death by getting them vaccinated against COVID-19.

Help Protect Your Child

COVID-19 vaccination is an important tool to help protect everyone 6 months and older from COVID-19 and its complications.

Getting children and teens vaccinated against COVID-19 can help keep them from getting really sick if they do get COVID-19. Vaccinating children can also help relieve the strain on families by providing greater confidence in children participating in childcare, school, and other activities.

After vaccination, continue to follow all current prevention measures recommended by CDC and based on latest COVID-19 Community Level data. Learn more about protecting your family from COVID-19. 

Impact of COVID-19 in Children and Teens

Just like adults, children and teens of all ages can:

  • Get very sick from COVID-19
  • Have both short- and long-term health problems
  • Spread COVID-19 to others

There is no way to tell in advance how children or teens will be affected by COVID-19. Those with underlying medical conditions or who have a weakened immune system are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.  Some examples of conditions that can make children more likely to get severe COVID-19 include:

  • Asthma or chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sickle cell disease

However, those without underlying medical conditions can also experience severe illness and be hospitalized. In fact, approximately 1 in 3 children younger than 18 years old hospitalized with COVID-19 have no underlying conditions.

Read the data about risk factors for severe COVID-19 in children published in Pediatrics, childhood COVID-19-related hospitalizations published in MMWR, and weekly summaries of COVID-19 hospitalization data through COVID-NET.

Vaccination Helps Prevent Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) Associated with COVID-19

Children and teens who get COVID-19 can develop serious complications, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). MIS-C is a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of cases of MIS-C have been reported. Children ages 5 through 11 years are most frequently affected by MIS-C, with almost half of all reported cases occurring in children in this age group. In addition, Hispanic or Latino and non-Hispanic Black children are disproportionately affected by MIS-C.

COVID-19 vaccination reduced the likelihood of MIS-C in children ages 12 through 18 years by 91%. Data from July to December 2021 show that 95% of children ages 12 through 18 years hospitalized with MIS-C were not vaccinated. CDC is collecting data on how well COVID-19 vaccination works against MIS-C in younger children. As more children under 12 years old get vaccinated, CDC will be able to analyze and share those data.

Children and Teens Can Experience Ongoing Health Problems after COVID-19

After getting COVID-19, children and teens can also experience a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems. These include physical and mental health complications that may occur four or more weeks after initial infection. These complications can appear after mild or severe COVID-19, or after MIS-C.

Symptoms associated with COVID-19 vaccination vs infection
Symptoms Post COVID-19 Vaccination Symptoms Post COVID-19 Infection
  • Cough
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Headache
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Limitations in physical activity
  • Feeling distressed about symptoms
  • Mental health challenges
  • Decreased school or daycare attendance
  • Missed opportunities for participation in sports, playdates, or other activities

 

Learn more about post-COVID conditions.

Children and Teens Who Have Already Had COVID-19 Should Still Get Vaccinated

Ongoing study of data show evidence that people can get added protection by getting vaccinated after having been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Even if a child has had COVID-19, they should still get vaccinated. For children who have been infected with COVID-19, their next dose can be delayed 3 months  from when symptoms started or, if they did not have symptoms, when they received a positive test. This possible delay can happen with a primary dose or a booster dose.

Read the science about immunity from COVID-19 infection and vaccination.