Mighty Blog

Common questions and answers about the COVID-19 vaccination

Updated: 2/25/2022

Here are some answers to common questions to help you decide to get your child or yourself vaccinated against COVID-19.

1. My child has a high-risk medical condition, can they get vaccinated?

Yes, the COVID-19 vaccination can be given to a child who has a high-risk condition. The only people who shouldn’t get the vaccine are those who have had a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis requiring emergency medical care to the COVID-19 vaccine, or one of its components.

2. Can my child get COVID-19 disease from getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

No, the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States do not have the live virus in them that causes COVID-19. A COVID-19 vaccine can’t make your child sick with COVID-19.

3. Can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine at any time?

Children ages 5 and up can receive the COVID-19 vaccination at any time — even at the same time as other vaccines. Previously, it was recommended families wait two weeks between getting a typical vaccine and getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but that is no longer the case.

4. What if my child was vaccinated before the CDC changed the wait time between vaccines in 2022?

In February 2022, the CDC updated its guidelines to increase the wait time to eight weeks between the first and second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for some people. Learn more about this update.

With this update, parents are wondering, what if my child was vaccinated before the CDC changed the wait time?

Children who were vaccinated on the original timeline of three weeks between doses are still considered fully vaccinated. While there may be some benefit to spacing the doses out further, it was too risky to leave children unprotected during the COVID-19 surge periods. As the eight week interval applies to people ages 12 years and older, we encourage your child to get a booster dose five months after their second dose to ensure they maintain full protection.

The extension to an eight week interval serves a few benefits:

  • It may provide a marginal increase in already excellent protection against COVID-19 disease.
  • It may reduce the already very rare risk for heart muscle issues, especially in males ages 12-39.
  • It may make scheduling appointments easier at clinics giving extra time between visits.

5. Are there any restrictions to getting the COVID-19 vaccine?

It is recommended that a child who has had multi-system inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, a rare problem of COVID-19 in kids, should wait at least 90 days post-recovery before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

6. Why is the COVID-19 vaccine dosage different for kids aged 5-11?

The COVID-19 vaccine dosage for 5-11-year-olds is one-third of the amount given to adults. This is because vaccine dosing is not dependent on weight and size like medications are. Vaccines rely on our immune systems which change as we age.

7. Are children dying from COVID-19?

COVID-19 has caused deaths in children, however, the rate of children dying from COVID-19 is lower than for older adults. But that is not to say it cannot happen. The America Academy of Pediatrics has put out reports through this pandemic reviewing the impact COVID-19 has had on children nationally. Recent data from the CDC show that unvaccinated people 18 and older have a 15 times greater risk of dying of COVID compared to unvaccinated people. While children are less likely to die from COVID, vaccinations are helping reduce that risk even more.

It’s important to note that death is only one metric to evaluate the impact of COVID-19. There can be significant and long-lasting health impacts that this virus can cause short of death. Long-COVID-19 or “long-haul” COVID-19 disease is becoming better understood as a collection of symptoms that negatively impact life and well-being of many infected. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, is another significant health outcome that COVID can cause. CDC recently reported that the COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at preventing kids with COVID illness from going on to develop MIS-C.

Overall, the total number of deaths from COVID-19 is falling. COVID-19 has caused deaths in children, however, the rate of children dying from COVID-19 is lower than for older adults. But that is not to say it cannot happen. The America Academy of Pediatrics has put out reports through this pandemic reviewing the impact COVID-19 has had on children nationally.

It’s important to note that death is only one metric to evaluate the impact of COVID-19. There can be significant and long-lasting health impacts that this virus can cause short of death. Long-COVID-19 or “long-haul” COVID-19 disease is becoming better understood as a collection of symptoms that negatively impact life and well-being of many infected.

8. Can mRNA get into my child’s genes or alter their DNA?

No, COVID-19 vaccines will not change your child’s DNA. The two types of COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines and viral vector vaccines.

9. My child has already had COVID-19, are they immune or do they need to be vaccinated?

People who have had COVID-19 do need the COVID-19 vaccination even if they have had COVID-19. The timing of the vaccine should be after the symptoms have subsided and the child has recovered. While infection with COVID-19 may provide some temporary protection against future COVID-19 illness, infection acquired immunity does not seem to protect against variants like Omicron as well as vaccines do.

10. What side effects could my child experience from the COVID-19 vaccination?

After the COVID-19 vaccination, especially after the second dose, your child may have some mild-to-moderate symptoms, like arm pain, fatigue and headache. It is a sign that your child’s immune system is working. Side effects usually occur 1-2 days after the vaccination and no later than the week after vaccination. Call your health care provider if any symptoms occur, such as a worrisome or persistent rash.

11. If my child has had COVID-19, will their side effects be worse from the COVID-19 vaccination?

This has been reported in some adults, but not all who have gotten vaccinated after having COVID-19 disease. Everyone is different in how they respond. Since protective antibodies after disease may not last long, especially if COVID-19 was an asymptomatic or mild case, the lasting protection comes with being vaccinated against COVID-19.

12. Can my child get COVID-19 after they are fully vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines are shown to prevent severe disease and the need to be admitted to the hospital. While some children that are fully vaccinated may test positive and develop symptoms of COVID-19 illness if exposed, their recovery will be quicker, the overall illness will be less severe and they will likely be at lower risk for spreading the virus to others. It is important to remember that two doses are required to be fully vaccinated, and for many kids a “booster” dose is needed to be considered fully up to date.

13. Is it safe to get vaccinated when pregnant? Does the vaccine cause miscarriages?

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy. You can get the vaccine if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Talk with your health care provider if you have questions.

COVID-19 disease has been shown to increase the risk for miscarriage, pre-term birth and low-birthweight in children. Unvaccinated women who are pregnant are also at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease including hospitalization. The CDC strongly recommends that pregnant women get vaccinated to protect themselves and provide protection for their unborn child.

14. Will the COVID-19 vaccination disrupt my child’s menstrual cycle? Can they become sterile if they get vaccinated?

One NIH funded study did reveal that a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can, in some small proportion of women, cause a temporary increase in menstrual cycle length. Importantly, this increase does not appear to persist into future cycles and has no apparent impact on fertility.

13. Can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine at Children’s Minnesota?

Children who are currently patients of Children’s Minnesota can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Children’s Minnesota. Patient families can call one of Children’s Minnesota primary care clinics to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated.

Our nine pediatric primary care clinics are conveniently located throughout the Twin Cities metro area so your family can access the best care, close to home. See a list of our locations here.

Learn more about how to schedule your COVID-19 vaccine.

15. Is there a cost to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

There is no cost for the vaccine, but there is an administration fee that may be covered by insurance. Ask your care team if you don’t have insurance or if you have questions.

For more answers to your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the FDA’s Q&A page.

Alexandra Rothstein