How to talk to your kids about COVID-19 vaccines

With the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, many parents may be starting to have conversations with their kids about getting immunized. Pediatricians recommend giving honest and accurate answers to any questions kids may have about the vaccine, while keeping things simple. Keep in mind your child’s age and development when explaining about the vaccine. For younger kids, a simple message that vaccines are a special type of medicine that helps keep your body healthy and reassurance about pain is what they need to hear.

Here are some common questions older kids may have about COVID-19 vaccines.

Questions from kids

What is a vaccine? How do vaccines work in the body?

A vaccine is like a shield for your body. Vaccines help your body build up the ability to fight off illness. Vaccines may stop you from getting a disease, and if you do get sick, the vaccine can keep you from becoming very sick or having complications.  

Why is it important for me to get vaccinated?

When you get sick, your parents or doctor can give you medicine to help you feel better. Think of vaccines like medicine put into your body to keep you from getting sick in the first place. Also, these vaccines help protect people around you, especially grandparents, babies, and other family members with medical conditions.

If I’m healthy, why do I need vaccines?

Even if you are healthy, it’s hard to know who will get sick or very sick from COVID-19 if they are exposed. The vaccine will help your body fight off the COVID-19 virus and can keep you from getting really sick if you do get it. Plus, vaccines don’t just protect you! They also protect your family, friends, and community.

Are vaccines safe? Will I get sick from vaccines?

Yes, vaccines are very safe! Millions of kids (and adults!) get all different types of vaccines every year, which helps protect them from lots of diseases. Some people have side effects from vaccines like minor pain, redness, tiredness, headache, chills, fever, muscle aches, and/or nausea. Other people have no side effects at all. If you do have side effects, you can think of them like signs showing that the vaccine is working and that your body is building up the protection it needs.

With the COVID-19 vaccine, everything was done to make sure that the vaccines are safe. Kids weren’t vaccinated for COVID-19 right away because scientists and doctors spent a lot of time studying the COVID-19 vaccines to make sure they were safe for kids your age.  

Why can’t younger kids get vaccinated for COVID-19?

COVID-19 vaccines will probably be available to younger children in the future! Vaccine experts know vaccines work well for adult bodies and want to make sure it’s the same for kids younger than 5.

Will the vaccine hurt?

The shot will feel like some pressure on your arm. We can make a plan for how you can be more comfortable while we’re at the doctor’s office/pharmacy/immunization clinic. Some options we can think about are holding hands, watching a video, singing a song, telling jokes, and taking deep breaths.

Questions from parents

Could the vaccine make my child unable to have children in the future?

There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems.

I thought kids aren’t getting sick from COVID-19.

In the most recent Delta wave this past summer, pediatric hospital admission rates were higher than they had been in any previous wave of the pandemic, reaching a rate of 25 hospitalizations per 100,000 per year in children between the ages of 5 to 11. For the week ending October 28, 2021, children were 24.2% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases (children, under age 18, make up 22.2% of the US population), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Getting kids 5-11 vaccinated now will help make sure fewer kids get sick from COVID-19!

More FAQs here.

Find your closest vaccine clinic here!

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