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. People with COVID-19 can have a range of symptoms, from mild sickness to extreme illness that needs hospital treatment or worse. Some otherwise healthy people can get very sick, with symptoms lasting months and longer (often called “post-COVID conditions” or "long COVID").


ARE CHILDREN AND TEENS AT RISK FOR COVID-19?

Yes. Millions of children have gotten COVID-19. COVID-19 is a leading cause of pediatric death. Tens of thousands of kids have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and many 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 6 months and older* are eligible for COVID-19 shots. To stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination for maximum protection against COVID-19:

First, everyone ages 6 months and older needs a primary series (the initial set of shots that teach the body to recognize and fight the virus). 

Next, most people 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 most individuals 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 often recommended before the booster shot(s). 


An additional mRNA COVID-19 shot following the primary vaccination series is often 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 UNDER 18 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). They are also not currently recommended for children under age 6 months. 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, community health center, or a local pharmacy (pharmacies offer COVID-19 vaccination for children ages 3 and older). You can find a COVID-19 vaccine location near you by visiting vaccines.gov. For help finding a COVID-19 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 previous infection does not give adequate protection against new variants. Even children who had minimal or no symptoms with a previous COVID-19 infection could get severe disease with another infection. 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 authorized/approved for children and teens under age 18 in the U.S. 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 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 6 months and older 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 for those ages 6 months and older. 


COVID-19 vaccines have the strongest safety monitoring in U.S. history. As of July 20, 2022, more than 700,000 children ages 6 months through 4 years old, more than 10 million children ages 5-11 years, and nearly 18 million ages 12-17 years 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 do not 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 OTHER SHOTS?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines can be received at and around the same time as others, such as a flu shot or regular childhood immunizations.


ARE THE COVID-19 VACCINES FREE?

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



Note: This FAQ is current as of 7/22/22. Guidelines may change. More on CDC guidance: https://bit.ly/CDCc19vaxMain



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