Published on in Health Tip of the Week
All U.S. residents (ages 12 and older) are now eligible for vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval for people ages 16 and older and continues to be available for ages 12-15 under the FDA’s previous emergency use authorization. Across the country, vaccine programs are available at high schools, community clinics and pharmacies. Vaccination provides the best opportunity to further protect your child from COVID-19 and help get life back to normal.
Like many parents, may have questions about vaccine safety and wonder if vaccination is the right choice for your child. While caution is understandable, it’s important that all eligible individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Why vaccinate your child
In order for the United States to reach herd immunity and control the spread of COVID-19, almost all the population — including children — needs to be immunized against the virus. While most infected children usually experience minimal symptoms, some can develop severe illness. Even asymptomatic infections can spread the virus through schools and sports teams, affecting not only other children, but also the more at-risk adults they interact with.
Vaccination gets our kids back to the programs, activities and social interactions they desperately need for appropriate academic, social-emotional and physical development. The sooner all eligible Americans are vaccinated, the sooner we can get our country — and our kids’ lives — back to normal.
Answering your frequently asked questions
Experts at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) address your common concerns to help you make the best decision for your family.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for teenagers?
Yes. The currently approved COVID-19 vaccines have gone through clinical trials and scientific review just like any other vaccine — including those your teenager has likely already received — and no standards of quality or safety were sacrificed. Learn more about mRNA vaccine technology and approval.
Does the COVID-19 vaccine have long-term side effects?
Short-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are usually mild and can include fatigue, headache and muscle ache. To date, after hundreds of millions of doses, the currently available mRNA vaccines have had no cases of long-term side effects. Hear more from Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at CHOP.
Can mRNA vaccines change an individual’s DNA?
No. mRNA is active in a cell’s cytoplasm and never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.
Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
Infertility has not been found in women infected with COVID-19, so it would not be expected to be a concern for the vaccine. Learn more.
My teen has a pre-existing condition/health problem. Should they get the COVID-19 vaccine?
In many cases, teens with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, IBD or other autoimmune diseases, or those who are taking medications that compromise their immune system, are at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 infection. The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for use cannot cause COVID-19, even in those with weak immune systems. Therefore, individuals with immune-compromising conditions may get the COVID-19 vaccine, as long as they do not have a severe allergy to a vaccine component (i.e., one that causes anaphylaxis or requires medical intervention).
We encourage you to talk to your child’s medical specialist to discuss individual risks and benefits and determine whether your child should receive the vaccine.
- Learn about CHOP’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program and find out how to locate vaccine providers close to home.
- Find more FAQs and the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccine at CHOP’s Vaccine Education Center.
- From travel guidance to summer camp safety, get tips for planning a safe, fun summer with your family.
- CHOP offers convenient COVID-19 testing (for children and their household members) at several locations throughout the community.
Contributed by: Jeffrey S. Gerber, MD, PhD