COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens

​WHAT IS COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a virus spreading around the world and locally. The virus spreads mainly through droplets made when an infected person exhales or speaks, and especially when they yell, sing, cough, or sneeze. Droplets can be inhaled by people nearby. People with COVID-19 can have a range of symptoms, from mild sickness to extreme illness that needs hospital treatment or worse.


ARE CHILDREN AND TEENS AT RISK FOR COVID-19?

Yes. Millions of children have gotten COVID-19. COVID-19 is a top 10 cause of pediatric death. Tens of thousands of kids have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and a third of them had no known pre-existing conditions. Each person’s body reacts differently to the virus. COVID-19 disease can have long-term health consequences, even from mild cases. Some otherwise healthy people can have symptoms that last months or longer (called “long COVID”). Although older adults and people with underlying health conditions have more risk for severe COVID-19, children and teens can also be severely affected.


ARE KIDS ELIGIBLE FOR COVID-19 SHOTS IN WV?

Yes. West Virginians ages 5 and older* are eligible for COVID-19 shots. To stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination for maximum protection against COVID-19:

  • ​First, all individuals ages 5+ need a primary series (the initial set of shots that teach the body to recognize and fight the virus). 
  • Next, those ages 5+ need to get boosted (booster shots help the body build or restore immunity when protection from the primary series starts to fade). 
    • Ages 5+ are recommended to get a 1st booster shot
    • Some, such as those ages 12+ who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, are eligible for a 2nd booster shot. 

*Minors need guardian consent (forms available from vaccine provider). 


WHICH KIDS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR BOOSTER SHOTS?

Booster shots are recommended for those ages 5+. 

Learn more: https://bit.ly/COVID19vaxBooster.


ARE THERE OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR IMMUNOCOMPROMISED KIDS?

Yes. For moderately to severely immunocompromised people, an “additional primary dose” (another shot in the primary series) is recommended before the booster shot(s). 


An additional mRNA COVID-19 shot following the primary vaccination series is given to people who may not have gained a strong enough immune response due to underlying medical conditions and/or medications. (This additional primary shot is not the booster shot).


There are also considerations related to the timing of certain shots and the number of booster shots. 


WHICH CHILDREN/TEENS AGES 5+ SHOULD NOT GET A COVID-19 SHOT?

Few people should not be vaccinated. COVID-19 shots are not recommended for anyone with a severe or immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine ingredient or who had a serious allergic reaction to a COVID-19 shot (discuss with a healthcare provider). Learn more: https://bit.ly/CDCvaxInfo5-11


WHERE CAN CHILDREN AND TEENS GET A COVID-19 SHOT?

Many locations have COVID-19 vaccines readily available. Check with the child’s healthcare provider, health department, or local pharmacy. You can find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you by visiting vaccines.gov. For help finding a COVID-19 community vaccination location, visit vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia COVID-19 Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.


SHOULD A KID WHO GOT COVID-19 AND RECOVERED GET A COVID-19 SHOT?

Yes. Immunity from having COVID-19 can wear off and may not protect against variants. Unvaccinated people are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 again. Studies have found that unvaccinated people with a previous infection were 5x more likely than vaccinated people to test positive for COVID-19. Children who currently have COVID-19 may get vaccinated after their isolation period.


HOW DO COVID-19 VACCINES WORK?

COVID-19 vaccines work by helping your immune system build antibodies that recognize and fight the virus. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are made of sugar, salts, lipids (fats), and messenger RNA (mRNA).

 

The mRNA is used to make protein, which teaches our cells how to recognize the virus. COVID-19 vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. The mRNA breaks down and goes away quickly, leaving in its place the blueprint for protection. 


IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET/GIVE COVID-19 TO OTHERS BY GETTING VACCINATED?

No. It is impossible for COVID-19 vaccines to infect anyone with the virus that causes COVID-19.​


ARE THE COVID-19 VACCINES EFFECTIVE?

Yes. Vaccination is highly effective at preventing severe COVID-19 disease, hospitalizations, and death. 

 

Studies have continued to show that COVID-19 vaccination makes it far less likely that children ages 5 and above will be hospitalized because of COVID-19.


ARE THE COVID-19 VACCINES SAFE?

Yes. Rigorous clinical trials found COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective in those ages 5 and older. 


COVID-19 vaccines have the strongest safety monitoring in U.S. history. As of May 2022, nearly 10 million children ages 5-11, and 18 million ages 12-17 received at least one COVID-19 shot. Learn more about safety: https://bit.ly/CovVaxSafety


ARE THERE COVID-19 VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS?

Sometimes. Some children and teens have mild to moderate side effects after vaccination, and others don’t have any. Side effects are short-lived and a sign the body is building immunity. 


Common responses are pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some also feel tired, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, or nausea. In very rare cases, myocarditis/pericarditis (inflammation in and around the heart) has been reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Moderna or Pfizer), particularly among male teens and young adults. 


Risk of myopericarditis after getting an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is lower than the risk of myopericarditis from getting COVID-19 disease. Learn more: https://bit.ly/MyoPericarditisC19Vax


ARE COVID-19 VACCINES SAFE FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO BECOME PREGNANT?

Yes. People who want to become pregnant now or in the future are recommended to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, and many West Virginians have gone on to get pregnant after vaccination.


IS IT OK TO GET A COVID-19 SHOT WHEN GETTING OTHERS, LIKE A FLU SHOT?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines can safely be received at and around the same time as other vaccines. ​


ARE THE COVID-19 VACCINES FREE?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines are readily available and free of charge for the person getting vaccinated.


Note: This FAQ is current as of 5/20/22. Guidelines may change. More on CDC guidance: https://bit.ly/CDCc19vaxMain