How Do We Know the COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe for Kids?

Parent and young child talking to a doctor
(This story was updated on June 22, 2022)

Now that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in children as young as 6 months, parents and guardians will decide whether their kids should get the shot. We want parents to have the facts they need to feel safe and confident in their decision to get their children vaccinated.

Here's what we know about the vaccine's safety for kids:

The vaccine was studied extensively

All COVID-19 vaccines must meet the same rigorous safety standards as any other vaccine. This includes scientific study as well as review and recommendations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New findings show the vaccine is safe and effective in children, just as we know it is safe and effective in adults and adolescents.

Just like their older counterparts, some children in the study experienced mild side effects, such as pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache. Those side effects usually lasted a day or two.

A tiny percentage of people in older age groups, mostly male adolescents and young men, have developed myocarditis or pericarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle or heart lining that usually resolves on its own— after vaccination. Myocarditis patients typically recover quickly and don't have lasting effects on their heart.

The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the risks of myocarditis after vaccination. The risk of myocarditis is significantly higher after coronavirus infection itself, compared to vaccination.

The vaccine reduces the risk of infection

Any potential concerns about the safety of the vaccine should be weighed against the proven dangers of COVID-19 infection. Although children generally have milder symptoms than adults, some kids with COVID-19 can get severe lung infections, become very sick and require hospitalization. Children who recover from even mild COVID-19 are at risk for later developing a dangerous multi-system inflammatory disorder called MIS-C.

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