Kids and the COVID-19 Vaccine

What parents want to know

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be used to vaccinate children ages 12-15. While this is encouraging news and yet another step toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that parents may have questions about the vaccine. IHA supports the scientific data behind this most recent vaccine and fully supports vaccination as the best way to end the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, with more than 261.5 million doses administered in the United States. Vaccinating this age group will help kids get back to their normal lives including school, sports and more, while keeping high-risk family members and others safe. Read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions around children and the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have additional questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatric provider.

How safe is the mRNA vaccine? The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are safe and effective.*

• The mRNA vaccine technology is not new for COVID19. We were able to get to this point quickly because this vaccine has actually been in development for years

• It was first developed during the 2003 SARS outbreak. Scientists were able to adjust the vaccine they had been creating back then

• In early 2000s we were not successful since mRNA breaks down VERY quickly and it needed to be transported by something. Finding that something has been a challenge until now. Scientists tried fat bubbles for COVID19, and it worked! • mRNA is more than just DNA’s lesser-known cousin, RNA plays a role in turning on information for your body’s proteins. This remarkable molecule can carry the instructions (messenger RNA or mRNA)

• Scientists believe an mRNA vaccine could be safer for us compared to traditional vaccines because they are NOT made up of the actual pathogen. This means that, unlike traditional vaccines, they do not contain weakened, dead, or noninfectious parts of a virus. They contain only the instruction manuals to tell cells how to fight COVID19. You cannot get COVID19 from the vaccine since it’s just instructions on how to fight it.

• The other cool thing about mRNA vaccines is that they quickly degraded in the body. After it does its job boosting your immunity against COVID19, it is gone. It cannot insert itself into human DNA.

• Even though everyone can react differently, the boosting immunity part is why many feel common side effects of fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, tried or achy for a day or two. These are all normal signs that tell you your immune system is working to build up the fight against COVID19, even in kids.

• Only time can tell us, but since the mRNA technology degrades itself after sending its message and mounting an immune response, it gives scientist confidence that there will not be long term side effects. From the many years of vaccine experience, we do know it’s rare to see concerning side effects happen after six weeks in any vaccine.

*Source: PHG Foundation

My Child had COVID-19. Do they still need the vaccine? Yes.

• The vaccine strengthens your immune response

• The vaccine protects better against variants than natural immunity

• The natural immunity is not as effective as the vaccine and it goes down after a few months

• Checking antibody titers is not very helpful since we don’t know enough. We cannot say for sure even if you have antibodies that you are fully immune, which variants are included or who long the immunity will last.

Does COVID-19 really affect kids? Yes.

• Children account for 22.4% of COVID cases

• Children make, on average, 13.8% (or 3.78 million total cases) of all COVID19 cases in the U.S. But this is changing. According the American Academy of Pediatrics, last week children accounted for 22.4% of cases (71,649 out of 319,601 COVID diagnoses). Just one year ago, pediatric cases made up 3% of U.S. cases.

• Some studies have reported 25% of children suffered persistent symptoms after COVID and many can have prolonged symptoms of fatigue with increased physical activity.

*Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Should I be concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine and infertility? No.

• There has not been any data to support concerns regarding infertility.

• In early December 2 scientists in Europe were part of freedom movement that raised concerns that the one of the COVID virus proteins could interfere with the placenta. However, there was no research or evidence to back up this claim. We now know that COVID virus protein does not cause infertility. If fact, due to the pandemic, the rate of pregnancy has increased along with the number of COVID cases! If a disease doesn’t have the potential to cause concern, neither does the vaccine.

Click here to learn more from Paul Offit, MD, Director of Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, on why this claim is false.


Vaccine scheduling for adolescents is coming soon!

Stay updated with the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine and scheduling a vaccine for your child or yourself.

The COVID-19 Vaccines

Get your questions answered here.

The COVID-19 vaccines are our best shot for ending the pandemic. But as expected with anything new, you may have some questions before you schedule your vaccine. We’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions we’re hearing about the COVID-19 vaccines in our vaccine clinics. Get the facts and then get your shot!

How do I get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Patients over the age of 18 can schedule their COVID-19 vaccine online here:

Patients age 16 to 17 can only schedule at specific clinic locations, please ensure the clinic says *16-17 before proceeding to schedule online. If you schedule at a clinic that does not have the capability to vaccinate a 16 or 17-year-old, your vaccine appointment will be canceled and there is no guarantee we will be able to accommodate you at a different location.

Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I get?

No, IHA & St. Joe’s Medical Group have received a supply of each of the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines, however the daily supply at each vaccine clinic changes, so we are not able to determine ahead of time which will be available and which you will receive. Our staff will help you schedule your second dose of the vaccine when you receive your first. 

Will I be charged when I receive the COVID-19 vaccine at IHA?

No. The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying condition?

Vaccination is an important consideration for adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. People with underlying medical conditions can receive a COVID-19 vaccine as long as they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.

What happens if I have an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?

After you receive your COVID-19 vaccine, you will sit in a waiting area for monitoring with IHA providers present, for 15 minutes. If at any point you aren’t feeling well, communicate with an IHA provider and they will get you the care you need immediately. If you experience a severe allergic reaction after leaving a vaccine site, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

Should I get the vaccine if I had COVID-19?

Yes. You should get the COVID-19 vaccine whether or not you’ve previously tested positive for COVID-19. The vaccine will produce a stronger immune system response than a natural infection.

I am currently sick with COVID-19, can I get vaccinated?

No. People with COVID-19 who have symptoms should wait to be vaccinated until they have recovered from their illness and have met the criteria for discontinuing isolation; those without symptoms should also wait until they meet the criteria before getting vaccinated. This guidance also applies to people who get COVID-19 before getting their second dose of vaccine.

Who should NOT get the COVID-19 vaccine?

You should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine if you had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine or had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of the vaccine.

What are the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccines?

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine includes the following ingredients: mRNA, lipids ((4- hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains the following ingredients: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate trihydrate, and sucrose.


Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and how you can get vaccinated at an IHA vaccine clinic.

COVID-19 Vaccines 101

Understanding how the COVID-19 vaccine works

Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine has become the third COVID-19 vaccine given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a harmless adenovirus to activate an immune response to the coronavirus spike protein. As we work to vaccinate more of our patients and communities, we’re working to increase understanding around how the different vaccines work to protect against COVID-19 and why the best vaccine is the one you can get.

How COVID-19 Vaccines Work

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” cells that will remember how to fight that virus in the future.

It typically takes a few weeks after your last dose of vaccine for your body to have the highest level of protection.

Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, feeling tired. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.

Types of Vaccines

Currently, there are two types of COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized for emergency use in the United States. None of these vaccines can give you COVID-19 because they do not contain any live COVID virus.

  • mRNA vaccines contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19 that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build cells that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future. (Moderna, Pfizer- BioNTech)
  • Vector vaccines contain a weakened version of a live virus—a different virus than the one that causes COVID-19—that has genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19 inserted in it (this is called a viral vector). Once the viral vector is inside our cells, the genetic material gives cells instructions to make a protein that is unique to the virus that causes COVID-19. Using these instructions, our cells make copies of the protein. This prompts our bodies to build cells that will remember how to fight that virus if we are infected in the future. (Johnson and Johnson)

How the Vector COVID-19 Vaccines WorkTrinity Health

Most COVID-19 Vaccines Require More Than One Shot

All but one of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized for emergency use in the United States use two shots. The first shot starts building protection. A second shot a few weeks later is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer. One vaccine (Johnson and Johnson) only needs one shot to provide protection.

The Bottom Line

Getting vaccinated is one of many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection from COVID-19 is critically important because for some people, it can cause severe illness or death. All vaccines have been proven to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. It doesn’t matter which vaccine you get, just get vaccinated when it is your turn.

Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and physical distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.


Learn more and read frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccination.