Questions and Answers About COVID-19 Vaccines

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We know people have questions about COVID-19 vaccines and this website is a place where you can find answers. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, experts learn more about the coronavirus and virus variants that cause COVID, along with how the vaccines are working in real world conditions. As a result, experts’ guidance on how to best protect people from serious COVID-19 illness and its complications also changes. That is why we are updating this page a few times a week.

For more information and resources regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines being developed to prevent it, visit Vaccinateyourfamily.org/covid19. For information about COVID-19 safety, check out: Guide to Masks & Testing.

For important information on the safety and importance of COVID-19 vaccines for children and babies, check out this new resource.

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Basics

Everyone 6 months of age and older – including those who are pregnant, recently pregnant or breastfeeding – should get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious COVID illness. Most of the people who have been hospitalized or died due to COVID have been unvaccinated.

To find a vaccine near you, check:

When you arrive at the vaccination location, you may be asked to wear a mask. The office or vaccination clinic staff may ask you for your name to confirm your appointment if you have one. Remember that everyone 6 months of age and older is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, without any personal information being reported back to the government.

You should then receive a fact sheet that tells you more about the specific COVID-19 vaccine you will receive. Each FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine has its own fact sheet that contains information to help you understand the risks and benefits of receiving that specific vaccine. You can view the fact sheets in advance here:

There is no special vaccine administration process. The person giving you the vaccine will wipe your arm, administer the vaccine, and give you a band aid. You will then be asked to wait 15 minutes to ensure you do not have any allergic reaction to the vaccine.

Afterward, you should receive a vaccination card that tells you which COVID-19 vaccine you received, the date you got it, and where you got it. Keep your vaccination card someplace safe as you will need it to fill out information on your second dose and booster(s).

You can also ask your vaccine provider about registering for V-safe. V-safe is the CDC‘s free smartphone tool that uses text messaging to check in with you after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. V-safe also reminds you to get your second dose and boosters if you need one and can help you see which vaccines you got and when if you lose your COVID vaccination card. If you recently got your COVID vaccine, but haven’t already registered for V-safe, please click here to register.

 

It is normal to experience some mild side effects after getting a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine can vary depending on your age, which vaccine you got, and whether it’s your first or second dose of a COVID vaccine, a third primary dose (for those who are immunocompromised) or a booster dose. You might get one or more of the following reactions after getting a dose of any of the COVID vaccines:

  • Pain, redness or swelling on your arm where you got the shot
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the side you got vaccinated

These possible side effects usually happen within 3 days of getting the vaccine and should only last a few days. Remember, not everyone who gets vaccinated will have side effects. Some people get the vaccine and feel fine. But if you’re worried or if you have other reactions after getting the vaccine, please call your doctor right away.

For more information on serious, but rare, side effects, please visit our safety questions.

Because your body processes the vaccine and all of its components within a few days, any side effects are seen within the first six weeks after you’ve received the vaccine.

It depends how old you are, which vaccine you get, and if you are immunocompromised. The booster guidance was updated in early September 2022 with the authorization of updated boosters to provide better protection against the currently circulating variants.

Here’s the latest on what it means to be “up-to-date” on COVID vaccination:

For people 12 and older, you are up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination once you have received an updated (bivalent) booster dose at least 2 months after your most recent COVID-19 vaccine booster. People who recently had COVID-19 should wait at least three months from symptom onset or positive test to get the updated booster. Getting the updated booster is especially important for those at the highest risk of severe COVID-19, including people over 65 and people with certain health conditions. The updated boosters are now available in pharmacies.

Children ages 5-11 years old are considered up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination once they have received one booster dose at least 5 months after their second primary series dose.

Babies & children 6 months to 4 years old are up-to-date after completing their primary series of COVID-19 vaccination.

For more information including details for each type of vaccine and a handy tool to check whether you’re up to date, click here.

If you are severely immunocompromised, there are different COVID vaccination guidelines because your immune system may not respond as strongly or effectively to vaccination. To find more information on the best COVID-19 vaccination regimen for you, read this.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized or approved by FDA and recommended by the CDC for use in the United States have been shown to help protect people who are vaccinated from getting severely ill, being hospitalized, or even dying from COVID-19. The vaccines also help protect people around the vaccinated person

People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider. It is important that those around them are fully vaccinated as well, in order to limit their exposure to COVID-19 further.

Vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. People who have been fully vaccinated, however, are less likely to get sick and are much less likely to get severely ill, be hospitalized, or die from a COVID-19 infection. It’s also possible that some fully vaccinated people might get COVID infections but have no symptoms. Anyone who gets COVID – with or without symptoms – can possibly spread it to others; however, vaccinated people appear to spread the virus for a shorter time.

There are now four COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized or approved for use in the U.S. – Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (also known as J&J or Janssen), and Novavax.

All of the authorized vaccines are effective at reducing the risk of severe illness and death due to COVID.

Public health and medical officials recommend you receive the vaccines made by Pfizer or Moderna over J&J if you can due to a small but increased risk of developing a rare blood clotting condition called TTS after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still very effective at preventing severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death and is a possible choice for those who cannot easily receive two doses of a vaccine.

Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines work against emerging COVID variants, including Omicron. While new variants have been shown to be better at infecting people and evading existing immunity, the vaccines still greatly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in people who are up to date on COVID vaccination.

In September 2022, the CDC recommended an updated (bivalent) booster to provide better protection against circulating Omicron variants. “Bivalent” means the booster includes protection from two COVID strains: the ancestral strain – the same formula as the original vaccines – as well as from the more recently circulating BA.4 and BA.5 variants. The CDC recommends that everyone 12 and older get this updated booster at least 2 months after their last booster dose and 3 months after prior COVID-19 infection for updated protection going into the fall/winter season.

The updated booster is especially important for those at the highest risk of severe COVID-19, including people over 65, and people with certain health conditions (including those that make your immune system not work as well). The updated boosters are now available in pharmacies.

Researchers around the world will continue to monitor for new variants and the current vaccines’ effectiveness against them.

Global COVID-19 vaccination campaigns are key to stopping variants as the virus cannot mutate if it cannot spread.

If you or your child has a moderately or severely weakened immune system AND got two doses of mRNA vaccine OR one dose of a J&J vaccine, you should get an additional primary dose of the same COVID vaccine 28 or more days later. This third dose of COVID vaccine should be considered part of your (or your child’s) primary COVID vaccine series. Immunocompromised people should ALSO get a booster at least three months after completing the primary vaccine series, and a second booster 4 months after that.

People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be protected even if they are fully vaccinated. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for unvaccinated people, including wearing a well-fitted mask, until advised otherwise by their healthcare provider. It is important that those around them are fully vaccinated as well, in order to limit their exposure to COVID-19 further.

All COVID-19 vaccines are provided 100% for free to all recipients. All organizations and providers participating in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program:

  • must administer the COVID-19 vaccine with no out-of-pocket cost to the recipient;
  • may not deny anyone vaccination based on the vaccine recipient’s coverage status or network status;
  • may not charge an office visit or other fee if COVID-19 vaccination is the sole medical service provided;
  • may not require additional medical services to receive COVID-19 vaccination;
  • may seek appropriate reimbursement from a program or plan that covers COVID-19 vaccine administration fees for the vaccine recipient, such as:
    • Vaccine recipient’s private insurance company
    • Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement
    • HRSA COVID-19 Uninsured Program for non-insured vaccine recipients; and
  • may not seek any reimbursement, including through balance billing, from the vaccine recipient.

If you do get a bill for you or a family member’s COVID-19 vaccination, it’s likely a mistake.  Don’t pay it – call your insurance company and ask them to explain the charge.

What if I lose my COVID-19 vaccine card?

First, don’t worry. If you lost your COVID vaccination card or don’t have a copy, contact your vaccination provider directly and ask if you can get a copy of the card or replacement card (the information about the COVID vaccine doses you received should be included.) 

If you cannot contact your vaccination provider directly, contact your state health department’s immunization information system (IIS). Vaccination providers are required to report COVID-19 vaccinations to their state’s IIS.

If you have made every effort to locate your vaccination information and are still unable to get a copy or replacement of your COVID vaccination card, talk to a COVID-19 vaccine provider about your situation.

If you registered for CDC’s after vaccination health checker – v-safe – after getting your COVID vaccine, you should be able to find details about your COVID-19 vaccinations in the system. But it is important to note that v-safe’s record of your vaccination(s) is not considered an official record of being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Who creates/gives out the vaccination cards?

These cards are distributed to vaccination providers by state health departments.

The CDC does not maintain vaccination records or determine how vaccination records are used. In addition, the CDC does not provide the CDC-labeled white COVID-19 vaccination record card to people.

Safety

The COVID-19 vaccines are safe. In the first year they were available, about 470 million doses were administered here in the U.S. Most people who reported a reaction to the vaccine reported mild side effects, such as pain in their arm where they received their vaccines.

Researchers, both public and private, continue to watch carefully for any rare side effects that may arise. To date, the only serious, but rare, side effects include anaphylaxis, myocarditis and pericarditis, and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). Learn more about these conditions and your risk factors for them below.

mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were developed using technology that has been evolving since the 1980s. They also were not the first coronavirus vaccines ever made. Scientists have been working on vaccines for the COVID-19 virus’ cousins, SARS and MERS, for nearly two decades. These two viruses gave scientists a head start on understanding how to combat COVID-19. mRNA technology also allows us to develop vaccines more quickly. No steps are skipped, it’s just a new technology that moves quicker, like moving from dial-up internet to fiberoptic cable.

 

There are multiple processes and programs in place to monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety. Learn more about each below.

Before Approval or Emergency Use Authorization:
  • Clinical Trials: Just like all other vaccines in the U.S., COVID-19 vaccine candidates are first tested by vaccine manufacturers or researchers in three phases of clinical trials.The purpose of these trials is to see if the vaccine candidates are safe and effective. During the Phase 3 clinical trials, researchers compare the health of those who get the vaccine to that of those who didn’t. This helps researchers spot common side effects and see if those in the vaccinated group are less likely to get sick from COVID-19 than those who got a placebo. A placebo is a harmless, “fake” vaccine given to half the people in the clinical trial. People in the vaccine clinical trial are not told whether they received the actual vaccine or the placebo. COVID-19 vaccine trials done so far have generally included tens of thousands of people, including people of color. Researchers follow everyone in the clinical trials who gets the vaccine for at least two months after their last dose to make sure there aren’t any lingering issues or side effects that could be caused by the vaccine.
  • FDA and the Vaccines and Related Biological Products and Advisory Committee (VRBPAC):Before being authorized for emergency use or fully approved in the U.S., the FDA gathers the VRBPAC, a group of independent experts, to decide if each COVID-19 vaccine meets its safety and effectiveness standards. If the benefits outweigh the risks of the vaccine, the VRBPAC then recommends the FDA either authorize or approve the vaccine. The FDA makes the ultimate decision based on its staff scientists’ review as well as the VRBPAC’s recommendations.
  • CDC and their Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP): After each COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for emergency use (EUA) or approved by the FDA, another group of independent experts who comprise the ACIP meets to carefully review the available scientific research and make recommendations for the use of that particular vaccine. In addition to the safety and efficacy of a vaccine, the ACIP will recommend who gets a vaccine and when they should receive it. The CDC Director will review ACIP’s recommendations and decide whether or not to make them “official.”
After Approval or Emergency Use Authorization:
  • Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS): VAERS collects reports of side effects after vaccination. Anyone can report to VAERS. Reports of side effects that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns are followed up with specific studies.
  • Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD): Nine healthcare organizations work with the CDC to conduct vaccine surveillance and research. VSD is also used to figure out if side effects identified using VAERS are actually related to vaccination.
  • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) ProjectCDC collaborates with 7 medical research centers to provide expert consultation on individual cases of rare vaccine side effects and conduct clinical research studies about vaccine safety.
  • V-SAFE: V-SAFE isa new smartphone-based, post-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. It uses text messaging and web surveys delivered by CDC to check in with vaccine recipients for health problems following COVID-19 vaccination. The system also will provide telephone follow up to anyone who reports medically significant (important) adverse events.
  • National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN): Acute care and long-term care facilities can report side effects to NHSN, which reports to VAERS.
  • FDA’s Biologics Effectiveness and Safety (BEST) System and FDA’s Sentinel Initiative: Both systems contain administrative and claims-based data for surveillance and research to identify any unusual patterns in insurance claims following vaccination.
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Database:FDA and CMS collaborate to monitor the CMS database which includes approximately 650,000 nursing home residents.
  • Genesis: In 2021, theNational Institute on Aging awarded a two-year grant to a team of researchers based at Brown University to design and test a monitoring system to identify and track adverse health impacts after Medicare beneficiaries, including nursing home residents, receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The project matches pharmacy records from both CVS and Walgreens with Medicare claims, creating a database which characterizes who is vaccinated, monitors adverse reactions, and examines the rate of “breakthrough” infections, all updated on a weekly basis.

If any serious safety issues are detected, immediate action will be taken to find out if the issue is related to the COVID-19 vaccine and determine the best course of action.

It is normal to experience some mild side effects after getting a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine can vary depending on your age, which vaccine you got, and whether it’s your first or second dose of a COVID vaccine, a third primary dose (for those who are immunocompromised) or booster doses. You might get one or more of the following reactions after getting a dose of any of the COVID vaccines:

  • Pain, redness or swelling on your arm where you got the shot
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the side you got vaccinated

These possible side effects usually happen within 3 days of getting the vaccine and should only last a few days. Remember, not everyone who gets vaccinated will have side effects. Some people get the vaccine and feel fine. But if you’re worried or if you have other reactions after getting the vaccine, please call your doctor right away.

For more information on serious, but rare, side effects, please see our questions below regarding thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and myocarditis.

Serious side effects that would cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccine safety monitoring has shown that if side effects are going to happen, they generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. That’s because the antigen, the part of the vaccine that causes an immune response, is destroyed by your body’s immune system. The rest of the vaccine ingredients are filtered out by your body within a few days.

That is why the FDA has required each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. to be studied for at least eight weeks after the final dose. Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines, with the first doses administered over two years ago in clinical trials, and no long-term side effects have been detected. The experts at the FDA, the CDC, and their advisory groups continue to conduct careful and extensive safety monitoring of all three COVID vaccines.

COVID vaccines continue to show that their benefits outweigh any risks. It is also important to note that there are many people reporting long-term health problems from the COVID-19 virus, including Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children and Adults (MIS-C and MIS-A). Learn more here. 

No. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in females or males. The rumor began because the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus that is used in the vaccine looks similar to the spikes that connect the placenta to the uterus. Your body, however, can tell the difference between these spike proteins.

The CDC, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) have all confirmed the COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility.

A study conducted by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine shows that women who had the COVID-19 vaccines were able to get pregnant at the same rates as women who did not get the vaccines.

There is also no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems. According to the CDC, there was a recent study of 45 healthy men who got an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, which looked at their sperm characteristics (like quantity and movement) before and after vaccination. The study researchers found no significant changes in these sperm characteristics after vaccination. In addition, while fever from illness, like COVID, has been associated with short-term decreases in sperm production in healthy men, there is no evidence that fever after COVID vaccination affects sperm production.

There have been rare reports of cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart muscle; pericarditis is an inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.

Most of these reported cases have happened in males between 16 and 29 years old after getting their second dose of a mRNA COVID vaccine. According to a January 2022 study, out of 192,405,448 people who received mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, there were 1,626 reports of myocarditis (0.000845%).

While these heart issues might sound very scary, myocarditis and pericarditis can be mild and treatable. In fact, of those who developed the heart conditions after getting vaccinated, most have made a full recovery. One study has shown that in young people, specifically those younger than 21 years of age, cases of COVID-19 vaccine-related cardiac complications are mild and resolve quickly – additional data and follow-up is necessary for other age groups.

Finally, a recent study found that the risk for cardiac complications was significantly higher after COVID-19 infection than after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination for males and females in all age groups. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and minimize your risk complications caused by COVID-19 infection.

There is a rare risk of severe blood clots after getting the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.

More specifically, there is a risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS. TTS is a rare, but serious, condition involving blood clots and a low blood platelet count that’s seen in some people who received the J&J vaccine. There have been 60 cases of TTS out of 18.5 million doses given overall.

For this reason, the J&J vaccine is now only recommended for people who cannot receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. (This CDC recommendation was made on December 16, 2021.) Experts will continue to investigate this uncommon side effect to make sure there are no other risk factors.

If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than 6 weeks ago, you are not at risk for TTS (but do have protection against severe COVID-19 from the vaccine). If you got the vaccine less than six weeks ago, the risk of this rare side effect is very low, but it’s important to know the symptoms of TTS and call your care provider if you develop any.

Pregnancy

Yes. The CDC and pregnancy experts STRONGLY RECOMMEND that all pregnant and recently pregnant individuals (including those who are breastfeeding) get a COVID-19 vaccine and a booster.

In January 2022, a study was published that showed COVID-19 vaccination was not associated with preterm birth or lower weight babies in the over 40,000 pregnant individuals who were vaccinated against COVID.

It’s important to remember that people who are pregnant or recently pregnant are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, hospitalization and even death. A CDC study published in November 2021 showed that people who have COVID-19 during pregnancy are at increased risk for preterm birth (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks) and stillbirth and might be at increased risk for other pregnancy complications. 

A COVID vaccine can also help protect your baby. Recent reports have shown that people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines during pregnancy (mostly during their third trimester) have passed protective antibodies to their babies, which could help protect them after birth.

The COVID-19 vaccinations will continue to be monitored closely by public health officials through U.S. safety monitoring systems, including a new pregnancy registry in V-safe to monitor pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Even though pregnant people were not in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, the CDC and the FDA have a number of safety monitoring systems in place to closely monitor the safety of pregnant individuals who choose to get vaccinated against COVID (and the safety of their babies).

Data from these systems did not find any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or for their babies. And, evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. Scientists have compared the pregnancies of people who have received COVID-19 vaccines and those who have not. The reports show that these people have had similar pregnancy outcomes. The CDC and FDA will continue to follow people vaccinated during all trimesters of pregnancy to understand COVID vaccination effects on pregnancy and babies.

The monitoring systems include:

  • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS): Anyone can report suspected vaccine side effects to the VAERS system, which has a question to identify pregnant people (question 8). CDC clinicians review all pregnancy reports related to COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • V-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry:V-safe is a new smartphone-based, after-vaccination health checker for people who receive COVID-19 vaccines. The v-safe COVID-19 Vaccine Pregnancy Registry collects additional health information from v-safe participants who report being pregnant at the time of vaccination or who have a positive pregnancy test after vaccination. This information helps CDC monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are pregnant.
  • Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD): Through VSD, CDC will study:
    • Weekly counts and rates of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant people
    • Miscarriage and stillbirth that occurs among people who received COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy
    • Adverse outcomes in pregnancy following COVID-19 vaccination, including:
      • Pregnancy complications
      • Birth outcomes
    • Infant outcomes for the first year of life (includes infant death, birth defects, and developmental disorders)
  • Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project: CISA will implement a clinical research study on COVID-19 vaccine safety among pregnant people at three sites. The study will:
    • Enroll pregnant people who plan to receive COVID-19 vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines will be given as part of the study
    • Collect baseline maternal health information, including if they previously had COVID-19
    • Follow people during pregnancy and for three months after delivery
    • Follow babies through their first three months of life
  • Birth Defects Study to Evaluate Pregnancy Exposures (BD-STEPS): This ongoing study collects information, including COVID-19 vaccination information, from people who have recently been pregnant to understand the potential causes of birth defects and how to prevent them.

The CDC and professional medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, recommend COVID-19 vaccination at any point in pregnancy as well as booster doses for those eligible. Learn more here.

Children

Yes. The CDC now recommends COVID-19 vaccines for babies and children 6 months and older. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are both recommended for this age group.

The specific dosage and timing depends on your child’s age and which vaccine they get. For more information about vaccine options, talk to your child’s healthcare provider or read more here.

The benefits of vaccinating children include:

  • Reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection, health complications, hospitalization, and death for children.
    • While COVID-19 is less likely to cause severe illness in children than in adults, many children HAVE gotten very sick after being infected:
      • Over 118,000 children ages 0 to 17 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and 1445 have died (data as of April 5, 2022).
    • Children are also at risk of long-term health conditions due to COVID-19 infection (long COVID), including the very serious Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Over 7,800 cases of MIS-C have been reported so far with most cases occurring in children between 5 and 13 years old.
  • Reducing the spread of COVID-19.
    • Children CAN be infected and spread COVID-19 to others, including people they come in contact within their school, their community, and their household. As we all know too well, there have been outbreaks in schools and summer camps that have led to severe cases as well as closures.
      • Children with certain health conditions or who live in an environment with higher exposure to COVID-19 are at higher risk of COVID-19.
      • Severe COVID-19 illness is also occurring at higher rates in Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic children than in non-Hispanic White children because of systemic racial inequities. Making the vaccine widely available for this age group helps to ensure that those who need it most do not face additional hurdles in getting vaccinated.

Serious side effects that would cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccine safety monitoring has shown that if side effects are going to happen, they generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. That’s because the antigen, the part of the vaccine that causes an immune response, is destroyed by your body’s immune system. The rest of the vaccine ingredients are filtered out by your body within a few days.

That is why the FDA has required each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. to be studied for at least eight weeks after the final dose. Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines, with the first doses administered over two years ago in clinical trials, and no long-term side effects have been detected. The experts at the FDA, the CDC, and their advisory groups continue to conduct careful and extensive safety monitoring of all three COVID vaccines.

On the other hand, some children and teens are experiencing multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) after COVID-19 illness. As of April 5, 2022, over 7,800 cases of MIS-C have been reported in children after COVID-19 infection. MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain functions. Learn more about Long COVID and MIS.

While COVID-19 is less likely to cause severe illness in children than in adults, many children HAVE gotten very sick after being infected.

Over 118,000 children ages 0 to 17 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and 1445 have died (data as of April 5, 2022).

Hospitalizations rose sharply in young children during the first Omicron wave in winter 2021-22. As of May 28, 2022 there have been more than 440 COVID deaths in children under the age of 5. Over 400 families now have empty high chairs and booster seats at their tables each morning. 

We can’t predict which children will have severe illness from a COVID infection – more than half of children who have been hospitalized don’t have any underlying medical conditions 

Children are also at risk of long-term health conditions due to COVID-19 infection (long COVID), including the very serious Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Over 7,800 cases of MIS-C have been reported so far with most cases occurring in children between 5 and 13 years old.

We can now prevent the death of children by getting them vaccinated.

Yes. Medical and public health experts say it’s ok for your children to get their routine vaccines and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Given the importance of routine vaccination and the need for rapid uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, the AAP supports coadministration of routine childhood and adolescent immunizations with COVID-19 vaccines (or vaccination in the days before or after) for children and adolescents who are behind on or due for immunizations (based on the CDC/AAP Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule) and/or at increased risk from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Vaccines are now available for children as young as 6 months old. As of June 21, 2022, the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID vaccines have been authorized by the FDA and recommended for use by the CDC.

  • Pfizer has been authorized as a three-dose vaccine, where dose 2 is 21 days after dose 1, and dose 3 is at least 8 weeks (2 months) after dose 2.  
  • Moderna has been authorized as a two-dose vaccine spaced 28 days (4 weeks) apart. 

The COVID vaccines for babies and kids appear to be about as effective as they are in adults. They provide some protection against infection with the Omicron variant, and stronger protection against hospitalization and death.

No. There is no evidence linking the vaccines and hepatitis. The CDC and WHO are investigating the cause of a rise in cases of hepatitis in young children. Most of the children who have been diagnosed with hepatitis are under 5 and were not eligible to receive the vaccine at the time they developed hepatitis. While early information points to a link between infection with adenovirus type 41, which is a common virus that usually causes cold and flu like symptoms in children, the cause is still being investigated. But we do know that these hepatitis cases are NOT linked to vaccines.

Overheard on Social Media & Common Vaccine Myths

No. The false claim that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips that can track people started before the vaccines became available in the U.S. This myth comes from people taking comments by billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates completely out of context.

Gates is often the subject of conspiracy theories and vaccine-related disinformation because of his foundation’s work related to public health and vaccines. While it’s true that The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works with global partners to provide effective vaccines and medications to those who need it most, and they also invest in the development of new vaccines to prevent infectious disease, Gates is not directly involved in the creation of any vaccines. See more COVID-19 mythbusters from the World Health Organization (WHO).

No. There is no connection between 5G networks and COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines. Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. In fact, COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks. In addition, the way that vaccines work, they don’t need to be, and cannot be, “activated.”

No. After singer Justin Bieber announced he had Ramsay Hunt syndrome in June 2022, anti-vaccine activists quickly started spreading false information to make people fear the vaccines.

Ramsay Hunt syndrome is caused by a virus – the varicella zoster virus – which is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. We now have vaccines against chickenpox (for kids) and shingles (for adults).

Vaccines do not cause Ramsay Hunt syndrome – they can actually prevent it.