COVID-19: Questions & Answers About Vaccines
Q. Should kids get a COVID-19 vaccine?
A. Yes, safe and effective updated COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for adults and all children ages 6 months and older.
Vaccinated people can 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. What is an updated COVID-19 vaccine? Is that the same as a booster shot?
A. It now seems likely that COVID-19 is here to stay, like the flu. And also like the flu, the virus that causes COVID-19 will keep changing, with new variants that come and go in waves. To help fight these, COVID-19 vaccines will change too. After the vaccine first came out, experts saw that immunity faded over time, so they recommended booster shots to “boost” the immune system and the protection it provides. The newest shots don't just boost old immunity — they build a new immune response to the most current variants. So experts now call the current shot an “updated” COVID-19 vaccine. Some people may still call it a booster shot. No matter what it's called, everyone 6 months of age or older should get an updated COVID-19 vaccine this 2023–24 season.
Q. How many doses of vaccine do kids need?
A. How many doses a child will get depends on their age, health status, and how many COVID-19 vaccines they've already had. It will also depend on whether they get the vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech or the vaccine made by Moderna. These vaccines differ in dosage and number of shots, but both are safe and effective, and are equally recommended. Kids 12 and up can also get the Novavax vaccine. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have questions about the different vaccines and how many doses your child needs.
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. 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. Can a person still get COVID-19 after they've been vaccinated?
A. Vaccinated people can sometimes 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. 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. 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.
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've had COVID-19. There are no known risks to getting the vaccine after having COVID-19. Because we don't know how long immunity lasts after an infection, it's important to get the vaccine too, but it may be OK to wait a few months. Talk to your doctor about the best timing for vaccination after infection.
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.