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COVID-19 Vaccines for Children Ages 6 Months to 5 Years

Children as young as 6 months old should get vaccinated against COVID-19. Here are answers to questions parents might have about vaccines for kids ages 6 months to 5 years old.

Should my young child get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Even though young children often have a milder illness if they get sick with COVID-19, some develop more serious symptoms and need treatment in a hospital. Some children have died from COVID-19. Rarely, kids who had no symptoms or mild symptoms develop symptoms later that can last a long time, a condition known as long (or long-haul) COVID. The COVID vaccines are proven to prevent long COVID-19, serious illness, hospitalizations, and death, including in young children.

How many doses of vaccine will my child need?

Everyone above the age of 6 months should get at least one updated COVID-19 shot this 2023-24 season. The number of additional doses a child may need will depend on their age, health status, and how many COVID-19 vaccines they have received in the past. It will also depend on whether they get the vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech or the vaccine made by Moderna. Some children may need as many as 3 shots this season, spread out over a few months, while others may only need 1 shot. Talk to your child’s doctor about the different vaccines and how many doses your child needs.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for young kids?

Yes. A vaccine goes through intensive testing before people can get it. Thousands of children under age 5 participated in studies that showed that the vaccine is just as safe in young children as it is in older kids and adults.

What side effects might my child have after the COVID-19 vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccine side effects in babies and young children are similar to those from other routine childhood vaccines and to the COVID-19 shots that older kids and adults get. They can include a sore arm, a fever, lack of appetite, or tiredness for a day or two. Older kids might have body aches and headaches. These are signs that their immune system is responding to the vaccine and building immunity to the virus. They're not a cause for concern.

I've heard that young kids can get either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine. Which one should my child get?

Kids should get whichever vaccine is most readily available. While the two vaccines differ in dosage and the number of shots a child will get, both are safe and effective and equally recommended by health experts. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have questions about the different vaccines.

Can my baby get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines?

Yes. As with older kids, younger kids can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time (or just before or after) any other routine vaccine, including the flu vaccine.

Should kids get the COVID-19 vaccine even if they've already had COVID-19?

Yes, young children 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. Because we don't know how long a person's immunity will last after an infection, it's important to get the vaccine too, but it may be OK to wait a few months. Talk to your child’s doctor about the best timing for vaccination after infection.

I got the vaccine while I was pregnant, and now I'm breastfeeding. Can I delay the vaccine for my baby?

No, don't delay the vaccine. Even though antibodies pass from a mother to her baby during pregnancy and through breastfeeding, experts are studying whether and how much this protects a baby from COVID-19. Until more is known, babies should get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are old enough.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date Reviewed: Oct 2, 2023

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