1Should I worry the vaccine is too “new”?
No. As of October 2021, more than 6.63 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given worldwide, with more than 416 million doses in the United States. For adolescents alone, over 11 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine tell us that this vaccine is no longer "new." Scientists and pediatricians feel confident in the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. Waiting puts you at higher risk for infection and illness.
2Will we need booster shots every year?
We don't know yet. It depends on how many people get vaccinated and if the virus continues to spread and change. As the population becomes vaccinated, we reduce the spread of the virus, which helps to prevent it from continuing to change. We won't need boosters if we are reducing and eliminating variants of COVID-19.
3Does it affect puberty or fertility?
No. Based on our knowledge of mRNA, we are confident that the COVID-19 vaccine will not have long-term effects on puberty or fertility. mRNA cannot integrate with DNA or alter cells.
4What are the most common side effects for kids?
They can vary but are minimal. Effect reported are mild to moderate such as fever, fatigue, headache, chills, diarrhea, or muscle aches. More kids reported side effects with the second dose compared to the first dose. Rare side effects can happen, such as swollen lymph nodes or skin sensitivity, but these are not long-term and resolved in most cases in a few days.
5How do we know about long term side effects?
Decades of research. Based on our knowledge of mRNA and the human body, we don't expect long-term side effects since it breaks down in the body in 72 hours. As will all vaccines, including the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, concerning side effects have all occurred within 6-8 weeks after injection. Vaccine development is based on decades of research. Scientists have done a rigorous review of all available data before approving for children. Our history of science tells us that if there are no side effects in those first few weeks, we are confident that concerns that arise with any patient decades later are unlikely to be related to any vaccine. mRNA cannot be converted to or inserted into DNA. It's not scientifically possible.
6How common is Myocarditis for children after vaccination?
Extremely rare. Myocarditis means "inflammation of the heart muscle. This can happen due to the robust immune response the vaccine can have on your body. We expect 26 cases of myocarditis per 1 million doses given. That's 0.0026%. Symptom of myocarditis is most commonly chest pain or difficulty breathing and usually happens within the first week after injection. Adolescents who have had this rare side effect are monitored closely. Most make a full recovery in 3-4 weeks by using anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. No kids have died of myocarditis after the COVID-19 vaccine. Myocarditis can also happen if you get the actual COVID-19 virus. In those cases, unfortunately, the myocarditis is more common, more severe, and last long-term.
7My child had COVID. Do they need the vaccine?
Yes. We know that "natural immunity" can be high at first. However, protection can drop off quickly or change based on circulating variants. Getting a vaccine, even for those who have already had COVID-19, strengthens your immune response. If you had COVID-19 once, it is possible to get a different strain again. The immune response after infection is not as focused. Evidence shows the vaccines protect you longer and for all the variants to date. Most importantly, the vaccine gives protection and prevents hospitalization for several of the COVID variants. Your child can get the COVID-19 vaccine once they are out of quarantine. There is no "waiting period," as another strain may come, and the vaccine will protect from getting hospitalized.
8Can kids become very sick with COVID?
Yes. COVID-19 disease in kids can range from no symptoms to severe illness. As of October 2021, over 6.3 million COVID-19 pediatric cases have been reported. Only 43% of kids under 12 have natural immunity. 30% of hospitalizations for kids with COVID-19 had no underlying medical conditions. As of October 2021, there were 5,217 MIS-C cases linked to COVID-19 in kids. This multi-organ system effect makes children extremely ill and requires hospitalization, often in the ICU. Long COVID, or lingering COVID-19 symptoms, can lead to learning problems, heart problems, exercise fatigue with sports, and respiratory issues. This has been reported in about 8% of children who have had COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, over 600 pediatric deaths due to COVID-19 have been reported. It is now a top 10 cause of death for kids in the United States.