This post is an excerpt from the CDC’s webpage regarding COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens updated November 4, 2021.
COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Update: Everyone ages 5 and up is now eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine.
CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. Widespread vaccination for COVID-19 is a critical tool to best protect everyone, especially those at highest risk, from severe illness and death. People who are fully vaccinated can safely resume many activities that they did prior to the pandemic.
Why Children and Teens Should Get Vaccinated for COVID-19
While COVID-19 tends to be milder in children compared with adults, it can make children very sick and cause children to be hospitalized. In some situations, the complications from infection can lead to death.
Although children are at a lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 compared with adults, children can
- Be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19
- Get very sick from COVID-19
- Have both short and long-term health complications from COVID-19
- Spread COVID-19 to others
Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions. Children who get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can also develop serious complications like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C)—a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
Help Protect Your Child, Your Family, and Others
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can help protect children ages 5 years and older from getting COVID-19.
- Vaccinating children can help protect family members, including siblings who are not eligible for vaccination and family members who may be at increased risk of getting very sick if they are infected.
- Vaccination can also help keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19.
- Vaccinating children ages 5 years and older can help keep them in school and help them safely participate in sports, playdates, and other group activities.
Help protect your whole family and slow the spread of COVID-19 in your community by getting yourself and your children ages 5 years and older vaccinated against COVID-19.
Protect Unvaccinated Children
Unvaccinated children ages 2 years and older should wear a mask in public spaces and around people they don’t live with. Learn more about protecting unvaccinated family members.
COVID-19 Vaccine Dosage and Administration for Children and Teens
- Adolescents ages 12 years and older receive the same dosage of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as adults.
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 through 11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and adolescents. However, children ages 5 through 11 years cannot get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine given to adults and adolescents. In addition, children ages 5 through 11 years receive an age-appropriate dose that is one-third of the adult dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Smaller needles, designed specifically for children, are also used for children ages 5 through 11 years.
- Unlike many medications, COVID-19 vaccine dosage does not vary by patient weight but by age on the day of vaccination.
- Your child will need a second shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine three weeks after their first shot.
COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe for Children and Teens
Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials. The FDA gave the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine emergency authorization to use in children ages 5-15 years old and full approval to use in people ages 16 years and older. Learn more about the process of developing, authorizing, and approving COVID-19 vaccines.
The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks. Get a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 years and older as soon as you can.
COVID-19 vaccines are being monitored for safety with the most comprehensive and intense safety monitoring program in U.S. history. CDC monitors the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines after the vaccines are authorized or approved for use, including the risk of myocarditis in children ages 5 through 11 years.
- Your child may get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, including flu vaccine, at the same time.
- Serious health events after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.
- Cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) have been reported after Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination of children ages 12–17 years. These reactions are rare; in one study, the risk of myocarditis after the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech in the week following vaccination was around 54 cases per million doses administered to males ages 12–17 years.
- A severe allergic reaction, like anaphylaxis, may happen after any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, but this is rare.
- Your child cannot get COVID-19 from any COVID-19 vaccine, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Learn more about how mRNA vaccines, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, work.
- There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems.