5 Questions Moms are Asking about the COVID-19 Vaccine

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This content was paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To find a COVID-19 vaccine near you, visit vaccines.gov; text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX); or call 1-800-232-0233. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the vaccine.

It has been over two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In many ways, most people are beginning their lives again and return to our “new normal”.

Due to the fact that COVID vaccines are readily available, lots of people are no longer hesitant to gather with family and friends, attend social events or participate in activities. However, many parents still have lots of questions about COVID-19 vaccines and children.

We recently polled our Orlando Mom audience and found that many of the questions that were submitted actually overlapped among local families. We are so grateful to have these frequently asked questions answered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

5 Questions Moms are Asking about the COVID-19 Vaccine

Why should my child get a COVID vaccine if children are already at lower risk for severe illness from COVID?

• Most children who get COVID recover without serious effects, but “low risk” is not the same as “no risk.” There is no way to predict how COVID might affect your child, and thousands of children, including healthy children with no other medical issues, have wound up in the hospital from COVID. In fact, during the Omicron surge, 5,000 children were hospitalized with COVID in one week. 

• We give children vaccines to prevent many diseases, even though the risk of infection is low, for exactly the same reason both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend COVID vaccines for children. 

• Vaccines prevent disease and can keep your child from getting seriously ill even if they get COVID. Why take the risk that your child might be one of the unlucky ones who gets very sick and needs to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized, when you have a safe and effective vaccine that can prevent those events?

How long do COVID vaccines offer protection to kids?

• Like all vaccines in the United States, COVID vaccines are carefully monitored in both adults and children. Because of this monitoring, we know that in adults, the vaccine’s effectiveness begins to wane at around 6 months after vaccination. This is is why CDC recommends boosters for everyone 12 and older 5 months after your second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. 

• However, we don’t yet have data on how long the vaccines are effective in children under 12. Because children’s immune systems are still developing when they’re under 12, they may not need a booster as soon as older kids and adults do. We will just have to wait and see what the monitoring shows. 

• Before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC recommend boosters, they carefully review effectiveness data and other research, and get recommendations from independent advisory committees made up of doctors, including pediatricians.

Do you have any advice for parents who have concerns about potential long term side effects of COVID vaccines in children?

• The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on vaccine safety and how vaccines work. We have been monitoring and studying vaccines for decades and we know that their only job is to trigger your immune system so that you can fight disease if you’re exposed to a particular virus or bacteria in the future. None of the COVID vaccines in use or in development in the United States contain a live COVID virus, so they cannot give you the disease. 

• Once a COVID vaccine triggers your immune system, all of the vaccine’s ingredients are broken down and eliminated from your body in a few days so they can’t cause long-term health effects months or years later. We know that side effects of vaccines appear within 6 to 8 weeks of vaccination and vaccines are monitored over the lifetime of people who take them. This monitoring has not uncovered any evidence that COVID vaccines cause long-term health problems. 

• There is no evidence that vaccines, including COVID vaccines, cause long-term health effects like cancer or infertility.

If my kid already had COVID, why do they need to be vaccinated? Doesn’t getting COVID give kids natural immunity that works just as well as a vaccine?

• Having COVID gives your child some immunity, but it doesn’t mean that your child can’t get COVID again. Also, we can’t predict how COVID will affect your child, and we know the risks from COVID are much worse than any possible risk from side effects of a vaccine. 

• The best way to protect your child and others is not to roll the dice on what will happen if they get infected. Vaccines can help protect your child from getting seriously sick or needing hospital care, even if they do get COVID.

Why would a child need a COVID vaccine when survival rates are high?

• Vaccines prevent disease and can keep your child from getting seriously ill even if they get COVID. Why take the risk that your child might be one of the unlucky ones who gets very sick and needs to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized, when you have a safe and effective vaccine that can prevent those events?

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