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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Questions & Answers About Vaccines

Q. Should kids get a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. Yes, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots are available for adults and all children ages 5 and older. Everyone who is eligible should get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot as soon as possible.

Occasionally, a vaccinated person may get infected with the virus or even get mild symptoms. This is called a "breakthrough infection." But the vaccine is very good at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19.

Q. Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for kids?

A. So far, all studies done in kids show that COVID-19 vaccines are very safe. A vaccine goes through intensive testing before people can get it. Millions of U.S. kids are fully vaccinated already, with no serious safety concerns identified.

Q. How many doses of vaccine do kids need?

A. Most kids get two initial doses of vaccine, at least 3 weeks apart. Some children with weak immune systems (from some illnesses or medicines) need a third dose 28 days after their second one to create a strong immune response.

Like many other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness can decrease over time. A booster dose helps to “boost” how well the vaccines work and maximize protection. It is recommended that everyone age 5 and older get a booster shot 5 months after their initial vaccine doses. Kids with weak immune systems should get their booster shot 3 months after their initial vaccine doses.

Q. What side effects can COVID-19 vaccines cause?

A. Like many vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild side effects, like a sore arm, body aches, headache, a fever, or tiredness for a day or two. These are signs that the immune system is responding to the vaccine and building immunity to the virus. They're not a cause for concern.

Q. Could a person get COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine?

A. No, people can't get COVID-19 from a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines contain a piece of genetic material from the coronavirus, and not the whole virus. So people who get a vaccine can't develop COVID-19 from it.

Q. Can a woman get a COVID-19 vaccine if she is pregnant or breastfeeding?

A. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can and should get a COVID-19 vaccine. It is now known that the vaccine is safe for them. On the other hand, getting sick with COVID-19 is not safe. Pregnant women who get COVID-19 are at higher risk for severe illness than women who aren't pregnant. So experts recommend that fully vaccinated pregnant women also get a booster dose of the vaccine.

Q. Is it safe for someone to get the COVID-19 vaccine if they've already had COVID-19?

A. Yes, a person can and should get a vaccine even if they have had COVID-19. There are no known risks to getting the vaccine after being infected with coronavirus. Because we don't know how long a person's immunity will last after they get infected, it's important to get the vaccine too.

Q. Can kids get the COVID vaccine at the same time as their annual immunizations?

A. Yes. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports kids getting routine immunizations at the same time they get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is especially important if kids missed getting some vaccines during the pandemic.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: May 2022