Why Children and Teens Should Get
Vaccinated for COVID-19

"The vaccine has been very well studied. It is very safe. It is much riskier to get COVID than the vaccine.

"The vaccine is remarkably effective. In fact, it is one of our most effective vaccines. I think that all kids should get vaccinated for COVID.”

Dr. Collette Chorney, Pedriatrician

Butte, MT

Children are as likely to be infected with COVID-19 as adults and can:

Get very sick from COVID-19

Have both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19

Spread COVID-19 to others, including at home and school

During the month of January 2022, COVID-19 (Omicron) was the #1 cause of death for ages 45 and up.

Source: KFF

It’s okay to have questions - talk to your child’s physician or provider. They are there to help you and answer your questions on COVID-19 vaccination.

The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.

The vaccine can help prevent death, hospitalizations and other serious complications.

Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions.

Find a vaccination location near you!

Frequently Asked Questions

There are approximately 78 million children under 18 years old in the United States, and there have been over 15 million cases of COVID-19 within this age group during the pandemic. Children who get COVID-19 can get very sick, require hospitalization, and more than 1,500 children have died during the pandemic. Also, younger school-aged children who get infected can spread COVID-19 to people in their households and school settings. With many children back in school and participating in extracurricular activities, COVID-19 vaccination is critical to preventing infection and serious illness, as well as slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Vaccines are among the most important public health interventions in history, providing protection from over 20 life- and health-altering diseases such as measles, polio, influenza and now COVID-19. The Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children receive all routine vaccinations. Vaccines are not available for every single virus strain or infection that can cause illness in children, but for those that are available, they provide protection from illness, can decrease illness duration and time away from school or activities, and can prevent hospitalization and/or death.
  • • There is a lot of information circulating about the COVID-19 vaccine. Please reach out to your family’s physician, health care provider or pharmacist for additional questions
  • • Other resources that may be helpful are the American Academy of Pediatrics website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
People, including children, should get vaccinated regardless of whether they’ve already had COVID-19 because research has shown there is a lot of variability in how long people who have had COVID-19 are protected from getting infected again. Evidence is emerging that people get better protection by being vaccinated with the primary series as well as being up to date with their booster dose(s) compared with having had a COVID-19 infection and remaining unvaccinated. Vaccination also helps strengthen your protection if you have already had COVID-19. (Source: CDC)

In December 2022 the FDA authorized booster shots for ages 6 months and up. Over one million children have received their booster dose from May to August, 2022 and no cases of myocarditis were reported. Evaluation of safety data from VAERS and V-Safe showed that kids were less likely to miss school right after dose 3 (6.9%) compared to dose 2 (10%), but were more likely to feel like they couldn’t complete daily activities after dose 3 (12.1%) compared to dose 2 (7.5%). No kids needed to go to the hospital after the booster dose, and there were no reported cases of myocarditis and death. The most common side effects reported were fever, pain and fatigue.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all children ages 6 months to 17 years old get a booster dose. Booster dose timing depends on the age of the child and which brand of vaccine was administered. Recommendations can be viewed by manufacturer here. (Source: Dear Pandemic, CDC)

COVID-19 vaccines can have side effects, but the vast majority are mild and very short term, such as injection site pain, fatigue, headache, myalgia and chills. These side effects indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine.

Reports of serious side effects are extremely rare. As of December 2021, of all reports to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System), 2% were considered serious for the 5-11 age group and 8% were considered serious for the 12-15 age group.

Reports of myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. A report published by the CDC found that 12-17-year-old boys had two to six times the risk of heart complications, particularly myocarditis and pericarditis, after COVID-19 infection compared with after COVID-19 vaccination.

Per the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, as of January 2022 over 8.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the 5-11-age-group with 16 myocarditis reports to VAERS, 12 of which met case definition. Over 18.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the 12-15-age-group with 317 myocarditis reports to VAERS, 265 of which met case definition. Myocarditis reports that meet case definition are much stricter than what people might report as being myocarditis to the VAERS system.

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. It has been seen as a rare side effect occurring after vaccination with the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. This risk was highest in males aged 12-17 years, and in one study happened at a rate of 54 per million in this group. Myocarditis after vaccination usually occurred after the second dose, was generally mild and resolved with medical treatment. However, the risk of myocarditis with COVID-19 infection itself is much higher than the risk with vaccination. Getting vaccinated is a good way to prevent COVID-19 infection and its effects, including myocarditis. (Source: CDC and AAP)

Serious side effects that could cause a long-term health problem are extremely unlikely following any vaccination, including COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccine monitoring has historically shown that side effects generally happen within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. For this reason, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected data on each of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines for a minimum of eight weeks after the final dose. CDC is continuing to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines even now that the vaccines are in use, and millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines without long-term effects being seen. (Source: CDC)

COVID-19 vaccines are free for ages 6 months+

Unlike many medications, vaccine dosages are based on age at the time of vaccination and not size or weight. If a child turns from 11 to 12 years of age in between their first and second dose, the second dose should be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 12 years and older. However, if the child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 for their second dose, they do not need to repeat the dose.

There are two COVID-19 vaccine products (from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech) for babies and young children. Both vaccines are proven to be effective. The AAP does not recommend one vaccine over another. Depending on which one they get, your baby or young child will need two or three vaccine doses. Parents should not choose the vaccine for their child based on the number of doses. In some instances, there may be only one option available. This is common for many childhood vaccines for which there are multiple manufacturers.

Children will have the highest degree of protection two weeks after they get the last required dose.

Yes, the flu shot and COVID-19 shot (primary or booster) can be given at the same time. Vaccines, including COVID-19 boosters, are our best hope to move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, an updated COVID-19 booster dose is available that protects against new omicron variants for ages 6 months and up.

For children 6 months-4 years: If your child received the Moderna primary series they can now receive a Moderna bivalent booster 2 months after completing the primary series. If your child has received 2 doses of the monovalent Pfizer vaccine and has yet to receive their third dose, they will receive the bivalent Pfizer vaccine for their third dose.

Children 6 months through 4 years of age who have already completed their three-dose primary series with the original (monovalent) Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will not be eligible for a booster dose of an updated bivalent vaccine at this time. Children in this age group who already completed their primary series would still be expected to have protection against the most serious outcomes from the currently circulating omicron variant. The data to support giving an updated bivalent booster dose for these children are expected in January 2023. The FDA is committed to evaluating those data as quickly as possible.

©2021 Montana Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.

©2021 Montana Medical Association.
All Rights Reserved.

Montana Medical Association

2021 Eleventh Avenue, Suite 1 Helena, MT 59601 | Phone: (406) 443-4000 | Fax: (406) 443-4042