COVID-19 Vaccination for Children
COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated can safely start doing more activities, and don’t have to quarantine after travel or an exposure if they don’t have symptoms.
The Pfizer vaccine was recently authorized by the FDA for emergency use in adolescents 12-15; it was already approved for children age 16 – 17. Studies found the vaccine to be safe and effective in these age groups:
- FDA Emergency Use News Release
- Pfizer’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens (CDC)
Please see below for additional health and safety information. No COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorized for children under age 12.
The Health Department will begin offering the Pfizer vaccine at its regular clinics on Tuesdays and Fridays. Learn more starting the week of July 12th on our vaccination registration page.
To find a vaccination for your child age 12+ at another location:
- Visit https://massvax.maryland.gov/ and search for vaccinations for age 12+ or call 1-855-GO-VAX.
- To find pharmacies with Pfizer vaccine, search by type of vaccine at www.vaccines.gov
- Some physician offices may be able to offer the vaccine.
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children, see below and follow the links for more details. Also talk to your child’s healthcare provider.
- 2,260 adolescents ages 12 through 15 years old enrolled in an ongoing randomized, controlled clinical trial
- Half received the Pfizer vaccine and half received a placebo
- Common side effects were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain.
- Immune response to the vaccine was at least as good in adolescents ages 12-15 as in ages 16-25.
- No cases of COVID-19 occurred among 1,005 vaccine recipients and 16 cases of COVID-19 occurred among 978 placebo recipients; the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19.
- More information is needed to determine if the vaccine can prevent transmission of the virus from person to person and how long the vaccine will provide protection.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine should not be given to anyone with a known history of a severe allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis—to any component of the vaccine. Ingredients and other information on allergic reactions can be found in Pfizer’s Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers.
To learn more about what to expect after your child receives the COVID-19 vaccine, visit our After Vaccination page.
- More than 177 million people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, and CDC continues to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for any health problems that happen after vaccination.
- Since April 2021, there have been more than a thousand reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) of cases of inflammation of the heart—called myocarditis and pericarditis—happening after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna) in the United States.
- These reports are rare, given the hundreds of millions of vaccine doses administered, and have been reported after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in adolescents and young adults. View the latest information.
- Most patients who received care responded well to treatment and rest and quickly felt better.
- COVID-19 itself is known to cause myocarditis.
- Confirmed cases have occurred:
- Mostly in male adolescents and young adults age 16 years or older
- More often after getting the second dose than after the first dose of one of these two mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
- Typically within several days after COVID-19 vaccination
- Getting vaccinated is the best way to help protect yourself and your family from COVID-19.
- More information will be shared as it becomes available.
For more information: American Academy of Pediatrics
For more information on how the COVID-19 vaccine works, and common concerns, talk to your child’s healthcare provider, and visit:
- This Q&A covers the types of vaccines, safety and effectiveness, side effects, and other common concerns. Here are two questions from the Q&A:
Do mRNA vaccines change your DNA?
No, the mRNA actually doesn’t interact with your DNA at all. DNA is your genetic material and it’s stored in the nucleus of a cell. The mRNA in the vaccines doesn’t get into the nucleus. And once your immune cells have used the instructions, they break down the mRNA and discard it.
What about long-term side effects?
The CDC says this is unlikely. We have years of research and monitoring on other vaccinations that show side effects almost always happen within six weeks of getting a vaccine.
- This fact sheet addresses some common myths about COVID-19 vaccines. Here are 3:
MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine can affect women’s fertility.
FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility. The truth is that the COVID-19 vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus’s surface. This “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it.
Confusion arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying that the spike protein on this coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. The false report said that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight this different spike protein and affect her fertility. The two spike proteins are completely different and distinct, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization methods. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo.
Getting COVID-19, on the other hand, can have potentially serious impact on pregnancy and the mother’s health. Learn more about coronavirus and pregnancy. Johns Hopkins Medicine encourages women to reach out to their medical providers to discuss other questions they have about COVID-19 as it relates to fertility or pregnancy.
MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine enters your cells and changes your DNA.
FACT: The two COVID-19 vaccines available to us are designed to help your body’s immune system fight the coronavirus. The messenger RNA from two of the first types of COVID-19 vaccines does enter cells, but not the nucleus of the cells where DNA resides. The mRNA does its job to cause the cell to make protein to stimulate the immune system, and then it quickly breaks down — without affecting your DNA.
MYTH: The messenger RNA technology used to make the COVID-19 vaccine is brand new.
FACT: The mRNA technology behind the new coronavirus vaccines has been in development for almost two decades. Vaccine makers created the technology to help them respond quickly to a new pandemic illness, such as COVID-19.