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Tips to Reduce Vaccine Side Effects in Kids

Children who receive a COVID-19 vaccine may experience some side effects. These are expected and indicate that your child’s immune system is mounting a response to the vaccine. Learn more about what to do if your child experiences vaccine side effects.

What are common vaccine side effects in kids?

Common side effects include tiredness, headaches, pain where the shot was given, and chills. Less common but other known side effects are fever, diarrhea, joint aches, vomiting and swollen lymph nodes in the underarm on the same side as the shot. These reactions show that your child’s body is making a good response to the vaccine and most should go away within 1-2 days. Swollen lymph nodes may last up to about 10 days.

How to respond to vaccine side effects in kids

These tips will help you identify and decrease mild side effects:

  • Read the Vaccine Information that was given to you at your child’s vaccine appointment to remind yourself about side effects.
  • Use an ice pack or cool, damp cloth to help reduce redness, soreness and/or swelling at the place where you child’s shot was given.
  • A cool bath can also be soothing.
  • Have your child drink liquids often for 1-2 days after getting the vaccine.

Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) may be given if your child develops side effects after the vaccine, unless your child has been advised not to take over-the-counter pain relievers. You may follow the dose directions on the box or speak to your child’s pediatrician. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 18 years.

Emergencies: Although very unlikely, if your child experiences emergency warning symptoms at any time after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine, call 911 immediately. Emergency warning symptoms include trouble breathing, pain or pressure in the chest that doesn’t go away, new confusion or difficulty waking up, bluish lips or face, or any other sudden and severe symptom.

For symptoms that are severe or last 72 hours or more, contact your child’s pediatrician.

When should my child get tested for COVID-19?

The following symptoms suggest COVID-19 infection and are not common vaccine side effects: New loss of smell or taste; cough or shortness of breath; stuffy nose/sore throat/runny nose/pink eye); or nausea/vomiting or diarrhea. If your child has one or more of these symptoms, contact your child’s pediatrician to arrange a COVID-19 test. 

If your child does have a positive COVID-19 test between their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine, they should wait 10 days from when they first tested positive and be fully back to normal before getting their second dose. They should still get the second dose.