COVID-19 Vaccines: Common Questions & Answers to Help Respond to Parents and Caregivers

For Vaccine Providers and Community Partners

As a trusted health care provider, your recommendation can help parents and caregivers feel more confident getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19.

Below you will find quick answers to some common questions that parents and caregivers may have about COVID-19 vaccination.

illustration of a doctor in a mask meeting a mother and son in masks

For additional resources and materials to help talk with parents about COVID-19 vaccination, visit our Resources to Promote COVID-19 Vaccines for Children & Teens | CDC

Importance of Vaccination

Why does my child need to be vaccinated?

  • There is no way to tell in advance how your child will be affected by COVID-19. Just like adults, even healthy children without underlying health conditions can get COVID-19, get very sick from it, experience short and long-term complications, and spread the virus that causes COVID-19 to others.
  • COVID-19 vaccination helps protect your child from getting very sick if they get infected.
  • Getting your child vaccinated can provide you with greater confidence for them to participate in childcare, school, and other activities with less risk of getting very sick if they get COVID-19.
  • The known benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks associated with COVID-19.

Should my child get vaccinated if they have already had COVID-19?

  • Yes, even if your child has had COVID-19, they should still get vaccinated.
  • While you can get some protection from having COVID-19, the level and length of that protection varies.
  • Evidence indicates that people can get added protection by getting vaccinated after having been infected.
  • If your child has been infected with COVID-19, their next series dose or booster can be delayed 3 months after symptom onset or a positive COVID-19 test result.

If my child has a lower risk for getting COVID-19, should I wait for new or updated vaccines that might be available in the future?

  • You should get your child vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available to them.
  • Getting your child vaccinated provides the best protection against serious illness if your child gets infected with COVID-19.
  • Since there is no way to tell in advance how your child will be affected by COVID-19—even healthy children can get very sick—it is important to get them vaccinated as soon as possible to protect them against severe COVID-19.
  • To find COVID-19 vaccination locations in your area, talk to a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, call the local health department or clinic, or visit vaccines.gov.

Additional information to share with parents: Why Children and Teens Should Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19 | CDC and Why to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine | CDC.

Severity of COVID-19 Infection

COVID-19 isn’t that serious for my kids, is it?

  • COVID-19 can make children of any age very sick. Some children need to be hospitalized and some have died.
  • Children can also develop serious complications from COVID-19 like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C)—a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs.
  • Just like adults, children can develop ongoing health problems after getting infected with COVID-19—also known as long COVID or post-COVID conditions—that can affect their quality of life, including their physical and mental health and ability to participate in childcare, school, or other activities.
  • Children with underlying health conditions, like asthma or chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, and sickle cell disease, are more at risk for severe disease. However, even healthy children without underlying conditions can get very sick and be hospitalized.

Additional information to share with parents: Why Children and Teens Should Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19 | CDC

Vaccine Safety

Is it safe for my child to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

  • Yes, clinical trials and ongoing safety monitoring continue to show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children.
  • Serious reactions, like myocarditis or a severe allergic reaction, after COVID-19 vaccination in children are rare and are most frequently reported within several days of vaccination.
  • The known risks of COVID-19 and possible severe complications of infection—such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death—outweigh the potential risks of having a rare, adverse reaction to vaccination.

Can my child get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccines?

  • No, your child cannot get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • mRNA vaccines (like those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and do not interact with DNA in any way.
  • Instead, mRNA vaccines teach the body how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. The body gets rid of the mRNA within a few days of vaccination.

Are the vaccines safe for all children—including mine who has a disability or an existing medical condition?

  • Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are safe for all children 6 months and older, including those with disabilities and underlying medical conditions.
  • If you have a child or teen with one or more underlying medical condition—such as lung, heart, or kidney disease, a weakened immune system, cancer, obesity, diabetes, some blood diseases, or conditions of the muscular or central nervous system—they are more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. So, it is important to get them vaccinated to protect them from severe COVID-19.
  • For more information, visit COVID-19 Vaccination for Children and Teens with Disabilities | CDC.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for my child who has asthma and/or allergies?

  • Yes, CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, even if they have asthma or allergies to food, pets, insects, venom, pollen, dust, latex, and oral medicines.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine for children does not contain eggs, preservatives, latex, or metals.
  • However, if your child has a history or diagnosis of having a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose or to a part of the COVID-19 vaccine, they should not get a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your child’s doctor if you are concerned about an allergy to the vaccine.

Instead of getting them vaccinated, is it safer for my child to just get infected with COVID-19 and build immunity from infection?

  • Getting a COVID-19 vaccine for your child is a safer, more reliable way to build protection than getting sick with COVID-19.
  • There is no way to tell in advance how your child will be affected by infection with COVID-19.
  • Even children without underlying health conditions can get really sick and experience short and long-term complications.
  • COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by creating an antibody response to the virus that causes COVID-19 but does not actually cause COVID-19.
  • While you can get some protection from having COVID-19, the level and length of that protection varies.

Additional information to share with parents: COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Children and Teens | CDC.

Potential Side Effects

What are the possible vaccine side effects my kid can have?

  • Side effects in children are typically mild, brief, and similar to those experienced after routine vaccinations.
  • Younger children may experience fewer side effects after COVID-19 vaccination than teens or young adults.
  • Side effects are more common after the second dose and can include pain where the shot was given, tiredness, fever, headache, and muscle ache.
  • Children who are 3 years old and younger may be irritable, cry, and have a loss of appetite.
  • These common side effects are normal signs that their body is building protection and symptoms should go away within a few days.
  • Some children do not experience any side effects.

Can mRNA vaccines cause long-term side effects or health problems in my child?

  • mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and do not interact with DNA in any way.
  • You cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine.
  • There is currently no evidence that vaccine ingredients, including mRNA, or antibodies made following COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with becoming pregnant.
  • In clinical trials with children 5 years and older, no serious safety concerns were identified within eight weeks following vaccination. This is an important milestone, because it is unusual for adverse effects caused by vaccines to appear after this amount of time.

What should I do if my child has side effects after vaccination?

  • If your child has a fever or achiness after vaccination, you can give them a non-aspirin pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help them feel better.
  • It is not recommended that you give pain relievers before vaccination to prevent side effects. In general, aspirin is not recommended for use in children and adolescents less than 18 years of age.
  • If your child has pain at the injection site, place a clean, cool, damp cloth on the area to reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Enroll your children in the v-safe After Vaccination Health Checker, which uses personalized and confidential health check-ins after vaccination.

What is the risk of my child having a febrile seizure?

  • Febrile seizures were rare in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials for young children and occurred at similar rates for both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Febrile seizures can occur in infants and young children with any condition that causes a fever (most common with high fevers), including COVID-19.
  • Vaccinations occasionally cause fever and some childhood vaccines have been associated with febrile seizures.
  • While febrile seizures can be frightening, nearly all children who have a febrile seizure recover quickly.
  • Febrile seizures do not cause permanent harm or lasting effects on your child.

Additional information to share with parents: COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects in Children and Teens (cdc.gov).

How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

How do COVID-19 vaccines work? Is the virus an active ingredient in the vaccines?

  • COVID-19 mRNA vaccines enter the muscle cells and instruct the cells’ machinery to produce a harmless piece of what is called the spike protein, which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Our cells display the spike protein piece on their surface and our immune system recognizes that the protein does not belong there. This triggers our immune system to produce antibodies and activate other immune cells to fight off what it thinks is an infection.
  • After the protein piece is made, our cells break down the mRNA and remove it.
  • At the end of this process, your body has learned how to protect against future infection from the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19 and cannot cause infection from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Additional information to share with parents: Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC.

Dosage and Administration of COVID-19 Vaccines

What is the difference between the dose for my child and the dose for adults?

  • Your child gets an age-appropriate dose that is smaller than the COVID-19 vaccine doses for teens and adults.
  • COVID-19 vaccine dosage is based on your child’s age on the day of vaccination, not by size or weight.

Which vaccine should I get for my child? Pfizer or Moderna?

  • Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children are safe and effective at protecting against severe illness from COVID-19.
  • You should get your child vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine that is available to them.

Can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?

  • Yes, COVID-19 vaccines can safely be given at the same time as other vaccines, including the flu vaccine.

Additional information to share with parents:

Vaccine Development Process

How were the COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly?

  • mRNA vaccines are newly available to the public, but researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.
  • Any COVID-19 vaccine that is approved and available for children goes through the same approval process that is required for other vaccines, including routine childhood vaccines.
  • Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials with thousands of children to ensure that the vaccines are safe and effective.
  • None of the clinical trial steps were skipped, and no corners were cut, in determining the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for children.
  • CDC monitors all COVID-19 vaccines after they are authorized or approved for use.

Additional information to share with parents: Developing COVID-19 Vaccines (cdc.gov).

Page last reviewed: September 16, 2022