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Kids and the COVID-19 vaccine


Those 12 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut. During the vaccine distribution, Yale New Haven Health is allocating extra doses to patients with medical conditions considered high risk with COVID-19 infection. However, eligible medical conditions for pediatric patients may be different compared to the eligible medical conditions for adult patients.

For a full list of medical conditions and for answers to some frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and kids, read more below. Please note, the FDA now allows for a third vaccine dose for certain individuals who are immunocompromised. Learn more about recommendations for third doses. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Safety for Kids

Why should my child get vaccinated?

In the early months of the pandemic, you may have heard that children are not likely to get COVID-19. However, kids can get severe cases of COVID-19. In recent months, we have seen an increase in COVID-related hospitalizations at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital. In addition, hospitalizations have increased nationally for children as a result of the highly contagious Delta variant. Getting vaccinated is the best way for your child to be protected.

All age groups contribute to transmission of the virus, and vaccinating children helps to reduce spread of COVID-19 across families, schools, and communities.

What vaccine will my child get?

Right now, the only vaccine available for children 12 years and older is the Pfizer vaccine.

Do I need to consult my pediatrician?

If you have any specific health concerns, please contact your pediatrician to discuss your options.

What are the side effects?

Just like with adults, common side effects can include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and fever. Side effects are usually mild and should only last 1-2 days. Severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis, have been rarely reported following receipt of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the reason why everyone who receives the vaccine is monitored for at least 15 minutes after their vaccine.

Another rare side effect is myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the muscle cells and includes symptoms such as chest pain or difficulty breathing.

Any child with a history of an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy, an allergy to polysorbate, or a history of anaphylaxis due to any cause will be monitored for at least 30 minutes after their vaccine. Trained staff are available on-site to monitor and treat your child if they experience a reaction to the vaccine during this observation period, and emergency treatment can be readily accessed. If your child experiences any unusual or severe symptoms after this period of monitoring, contact your pediatrician or urgent care.

What is myocarditis?

Myocarditis is an inflammation of the muscle cells. It is an extremely rare condition seen in well below 1% of vaccinated teenagers. We have seen a handful of cases, mostly in young male adults after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine. Symptoms typically occur within two weeks of vaccination and can include chest pain, or difficulty breathing. If you experience those symptoms, seek medical attention.

It is important to note that myocarditis can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and our pediatric cardiologists are well trained to deal with any cases. The patients we have seen with myocarditis have had a good recovery. In addition, vaccination is still recommended, as the complications from COVID-19 may be much worse than myocarditis in some children.

Can I give my child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) before vaccination to prevent side effeccts?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises against giving your child a pain-relieving medication before getting the vaccine because it may reduce the immune response to the vaccine. However, if your child develops fever or pain after the vaccine, it is acceptable to provide acetaminophen or ibuprofen at the appropriate dose unless they have a known contraindication.

Is the dose of COVID-19 vaccine the same for 12-15 year-olds as it is for adults?

Yes, the dose of COVID-19 vaccine given to children ages 12-15 is the same dose as is given to older children and adults. This is the dose that was tested in the clinical trial and determined to be safe and effective for children ages 12-15.

Can my child get the vaccine if they have food allergies, a history of anaphylaxis, and/or carries an Epi-pen?

Unless your child had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or has an allergy to one of the ingredients in the vaccine (e.g., polyethylene glycol or PEG), your child should be able to get the vaccine. If you have concerns regarding your child’s history of allergic reactions, you should discuss your child’s history with your pediatrician before getting the vaccine.

If your child has a history of a severe allergic reaction or carries an Epi-pen, please let our staff know on the day of your child’s appointment. They will be able to monitor your child and respond in case they experience a reaction.

My child had a reaction to Miralax or another medication that contains PEG (polyethylene glycol). Is it safe for my child to get the Pfizer vaccine?

If your child has had a severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis), or an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to Miralax or another medication that contains polyethylene glycol (PEG), your child cannot receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Symptoms of this type of allergic reaction include diffuse itching, hives, swelling of face/lips, respiratory distress (e.g. wheezing, stridor) with onset within minutes to hours of taking the medication.

A common, known (intended) effect of orally administered polyethylene glycol is abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. This type of reaction would NOT be considered an allergic reaction unless accompanied by allergic symptoms such as itching, rash, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing.

If my child already had COVID-19, should I bother with vaccination?

Yes, your child should have a COVID-19 vaccination regardless of whether they have already had COVID-19. This is because the vaccine provides additional protection by reducing the risk of a repeat COVID-19 infection. It is recommended that your child wait one month after resolution of COVID-19 symptoms before getting vaccinated, recognizing that the risk of reinfection with COVID-19 and, therefore, the benefit of vaccination, might increase with time following the initial infection.

My child has a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Can my child receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

Children and young adults who had MIS-C may choose to be vaccinated. If they decide to get the vaccine, CDC suggests they should consider delaying COVID-19 vaccination until they have recovered from this illness and for 90 days after the date of diagnosis of MIS-C.

I have heard that the COVID-19 vaccines may impact fertility. Is there any evidence for this?

There is no evidence that mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 have a negative effect on fertility. In fact, in the recent COVID-19 clinical trials, equal numbers of pregnancies occurred in the group given the vaccine as in the group given a placebo. Theories about COVID-19 vaccines impacting fertility have no scientific basis. Claims that mRNA vaccines will cause the immune system to attack genes or proteins important for reproduction are unfounded and have been refuted by reproductive scientists across the world. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine continue to assert that COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility.

I have heard that some women have experienced menstrual irregularities after a COVID-19 vaccine. Should I be worried about this in my daughter?

At this time, there is no scientific evidence that COVID-19 vaccines themselves cause menstrual changes. Period timing and flow volume can vary due to numerous causes, including stress, illness, and age. Individual patient reports of heavier periods being a temporary side effect of the vaccine could thus be attributable to many other causes. Menstrual irregularities should not be a cause for concern about the vaccine.

12 and Older Appointment Information

How will those 12 and older get a vaccine?

Parents or guardians can accompany their child 12 and older to their appointment. We are offering vaccination appointments at select Northeast Medical Group locations. Learn more about how to sign up.

Is parent or guardian sign-off required?

A parent or legal guardian must provide consent at the time of vaccination.

What should kids 12 and older bring to their vaccine appointment?

Eligible children 12-17 should be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at the time of their vaccination. Parents and legal guardians should bring a form of ID and child’s insurance card if available. Masks should be worn.

Pediatric High-Risk Medical Conditions

Cardiology

  • Severe Congenital Heart Disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Pulmonary Hypertension

Endocrinology

  • Diabetes-poorly controlled, HBA1C 10 or more

ENT

  • Tracheostomy dependent or sialorrhea

GI

  • IBD on Intense Immunosuppression
  • Status post liver or small bowel transplant

Hem/Onc

  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Patients on Chemotherapy or completed within 3 months

Nephrology

  • Chronic Kidney Disease Stages 2-5

Neurology

  • Severe Cerebral Palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Degenerative Neuro Muscular Disease

Pulmonology

  • Chronic respiratory disease on daily maintenance therapy including Asthma and CF

Other Significant Risk Conditions

  • Obesity ([BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
  • SLE
  • Combined Immunodeficiency
  • Complement Deficiencies
  • Auto Immune Disorders
  • Patient with severe immunodeficiency
  • Down Syndrome or other Trisomy
  • Organ Failure/Organ Transplant (lung, kidney, liver & heart)