COVID-19 Vaccine and Kids

Wisconsin is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases among those under 18 years old and there are steps we can take to prevent it. Everyone aged 12 years and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Getting the vaccine will help cut down on the overall spread of COVID-19 and move us that much closer to a return to our normal lives.  

To schedule a vaccine appointment, anyone 12 years and older can use this online form.  

Parents might have questions about the vaccine for their children and what to expect. Here are some common questions and answers. 

What vaccine will my child receive?

At this time, the Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for those 12 years and older. Pfizer is a mRNA vaccine and requires two doses injected three weeks apart. Studies show that immunity is reached about two weeks after receiving the vaccine’s second dose. Research is still being done to determine how long that immunity will last.

Research has also shown the Pfizer vaccine decreased the risk of moderate to severe COVID-19 disease by 95% and reduced the risk of hospitalization by 100%.

Is the vaccine safe for kids?

The Pfizer vaccine is safe for children ages 12 years and older. In clinical trials, enough youth participated to show that the vaccine is safe for people as young as 12 years. There is no evidence to show that children tolerate the vaccine less than adults.

If kids are less likely to get sick from COVID-19, why do they need a vaccine?

While older adults are at a higher risk, severe illness in children should not be taken lightly. Children who are 12 years and older have needed hospital care for COVID-19. This is especially true for teenagers with underlying health conditions.

Also, in-person instruction and athletics are essential to the mental and physical health of children. Getting the vaccine, in addition to continued safety measures will allow us to return to more typical activities.

Will the vaccine protect my child against new strains of the virus?

Viral mutations are common and there will be ongoing study needed to monitor the effectiveness of the current vaccines against new strains. While there may be some decrease in immune response, the vaccine is still largely protective. An important step in preventing new strains is to ensure as many people as possible get the vaccine. The more people who get sick – even mildly – with COVID-19, the more opportunity for the virus to continue to mutate.

My child already had COVID-19. Should they have the vaccine?

There is not enough information to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again, and some people have been infected more than once. Therefore, we do advise vaccination even if someone has previously been diagnosed with COVID-19.

We recommend that waiting 90 days after full recovery before getting vaccinated. If you choose to have your teen vaccinated before the 90-day period, we highly recommend waiting at least 30 days because your teen is already protected by natural antibodies, and it will decrease the risk of side effects to the vaccine.

Do I need to accompany my child to the vaccination?

No, but a parent or legal guardian will need to give consent. For vaccines administered with UW Health, we can be given consent over the phone and the consent covers both doses.

What should my child expect at the COVID-19 vaccination appointment?

After checking in, the teen will be asked some questions about their health. The shot will be administered into the arm. After receiving the shot, the teen will be monitored for 15 minutes to ensure no adverse reactions. The teen will also receive a card indicating when they received the vaccine and information about the vaccine.

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? Are there any different side effects for kids?

Mild or moderate side effects for both adults and teens include tiredness, nausea, muscle pain, chills, joint pain and headache. Adverse events are more common after the second dose. These side effects are a sign that your immune system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do – building up protection to the disease.

If side effects do appear after the vaccination, what can I use to treat them?

It is fine to treat side effects with over-the-counter pain medicine. Either ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given, as long as the child hasn’t had previous reactions to these medications.

Should my child stay home from school after the COVID-19 vaccine?

If they are feeling well there is no need to limit activities. If they have a fever, the teen should stay home.

After receiving both COVID-19 vaccine doses, can my child stop wearing a mask and social distancing?

No. it is important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, frequent hand washing and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

When will the vaccine be available for children under 12 years of age?

Children under the age of 12 years will not be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine immediately. Clinical trial testing on children is underway but it is unclear when children under the age of 12 will be able to get vaccinated. We will communicate with patients and the community when we have updates about the availability of vaccines for children.

Where can I learn more information?