The same Pfizer vaccine that has been used in adults has now been authorized for children 12 and older. No matter what you may have heard or read on social media, it is important for anyone who can get the vaccine to do so – even kids. Kids are key to helping stop the spread, protecting loved ones and returning to school, sports, activities and, possibly, no more masking.
Once enough of our population is immunized, the virus will have trouble spreading. The shots we get as babies work in the same way. Vaccines keep measles, polio and other diseases under control.
Speaking of which, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a statement calling for all children 12 and up to get vaccinated. In addition to being vaccinated for COVID-19, the AAP is encouraging parents/caregivers to get their child up to date on other childhood vaccines that may have been missed over the course of the last year. They indicate that it is safe for children to get multiple vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine, at the same time.
Safety has been the top priority throughout the vaccine trials, but even though the vaccine is safe and effective, some people are worried about getting vaccinated -- or vaccinating their kids -- because they have heard or read false information. For instance, there were no shortcuts in the development of the vaccine.
In fact, the technology already existed to create a COVID-19 vaccine containing only water, sugar, salt, fat and a building block that helps your body build immunity. What the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calls Emergency Use Authorization simply means there was a shorter than normal timeframe to develop the vaccine. There were no shortcuts involved.
Kids may not get as sick as adults with COVID-19, and sometimes show no symptoms at all, but they can still get it. Some kids have had severe illness and, in rare cases, died. Kids can also get COVID-19 and pass it on to their family or other adults.
You Cannot Get COVID-19 From the Vaccine
You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Your child may exhibit side effects from the vaccine, like body aches, fatigue and headache. These side effects are because their body is doing what it’s supposed to, however, which is building immunity to fight off the virus. When side effects do occur, they typically only last one to two days.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Does Not Cause Infertility or Low Sperm Count
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects pregnancy, causes future fertility problems or a low sperm count. Many people are still getting pregnant after receiving the vaccine and have had healthy babies born after being immunized.
You Will Not Test Positive for SARS CoV-2, the Virus Causing COVID-19, After Receiving the Vaccine
The vaccine does not cause a positive result on viral tests. Once your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of the vaccine, you will probably test positive for antibodies. A positive antibody test shows that you either had a previous natural infection or appropriately responded to the vaccine and now have protection against the virus.
You Should be Vaccinated, Even if You Had COVID-19
We don’t yet know how long antibodies will remain in the body to protect kids from the virus and because it is possible to get infected again, it’s important to get vaccinated. If your child had COVID-19 and was treated with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you’ll need to wait 90 days before getting them vaccinated. Check with your physician about what treatment they received.
Children Who Are Healthy and Have No Underlying Conditions Should Get the Vaccine
Getting immunized is much safer than risking infection with COVID-19 because it affects everybody differently and there is no way to predict how sick a person can get. Very healthy people have become extremely ill (and in some cases, died) and people with lots of chronic (recurring) health conditions have experienced no symptoms at all. Avoid rolling the dice by getting your child vaccinated: you’ll protect them as well as everyone around them, including your family.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Does Not Alter Your DNA
Your child’s DNA will not change after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The two vaccine varieties currently being used, messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and viral vector vaccines, aren’t structured to affect DNA. Vaccines teach our bodies how to naturally defend us from germs by causing an immune response.
The current vaccines being used are very safe and have been proven to prevent major illness and death. If everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine does so, we’ll be protecting ourselves and each other, while we gradually become able to participate once again in many of our favorite activities.
A Vaccine Might Not Prevent Me from Getting Sick With COVID-19
While no vaccine is 100% effective, the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be extremely effective in preventing both mild and severe infection in those fully vaccinated.
The COVID-19 Vaccines Are Free
All of the approved vaccines for COVID-19 are free to the public.
William J. Barson, MD, is chief of the Section of Infectious Diseases and director of the Infectious Diseases Fellowship Program at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He is professor emeritus of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
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