Questions and Answers about Kids and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Updated May 12, 2021

Answers to common questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Additional information can be found at NortonChildrens.com/COVID-19 and in these recent Get Healthy Families news articles.

Vaccine update information is subject to change. Please refer to this page regularly.

 

 

Is the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safe for kids?

Across the world, millions of people have received this vaccine, and it has been proven safe and effective in older teenagers and adults. In a study of more than 2,000 children ages 12 to 15, half got two doses of the vaccine and half got placebo saline shots.

In the study, there were no COVID-19 cases among kids who got the vaccine and 16 cases among kids who got the placebo.

The most common side effects were pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain. The side effects typically lasted one to three days and were generally more common after the second dose than the first.

Back to top

What do I need to bring to my child’s vaccine appointment?

The vaccine is free, but if you have an insurance card, please bring it. In addition, the child should wear a loose-fitting top that allows easy access to the upper arm. No proof of age is required. Plan to stay 15 to 30 minutes after you receive the vaccine.

Back to top

Can I get vaccinated at the same time as my child?

Yes. Adults and children are being vaccinated at the same locations if you want to schedule appointments around the same time.

Back to top

My child is afraid the shot will hurt. What can I do?

Some tips for anyone getting a shot:

  • Relax your arm during the injection. Afterward, start moving your arm.
  • Turn your head and look away.
  • Find a distraction or keep talking.
  • Drink water ahead of time, and don’t get vaccinated on an empty stomach.
  • Take deep breaths to relax your body and help clear your mind.

Back to top

Will the vaccine prevent COVID-19 and its variants?

While the vaccine is incredibly effective, there likely will be “breakthrough” cases of kids getting COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated. Even in those cases, most are protected from getting a severe case of COVID-19.

Back to top

The virus hasn’t hit kids as hard as adults, so why is it important to get the vaccine?

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.8 million kids have been infected with COVID-19. Many children with COVID-19 have no symptoms or a mild case. One or two kids out of 100 may get sick enough to need hospitalization, and some of them need intensive care.

Some who didn’t even know they were infected or had mild cases will go on to develop a life-threatening complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), where internal organs, including the heart, become inflamed.

Back to top

Is this the same vaccine that adults are getting?

Yes. The Pfizer vaccine now available to kids as young as age 12 is the same vaccine that adults have been receiving.

Back to top

Will vaccinating kids get us closer to herd immunity?

Children make up about 22% of the population. It’s still uncertain what percentage of individuals need to be vaccinated to leave the virus so few hosts that it dies off.  However, many estimate that about 80% of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, and vaccinating children is an important step.

Back to top

What should reluctant children or parents do?

That’s a great opportunity to sit down with a pediatrician. Giving everyone a chance to voice their concerns as well as get the information they need can open the dialogue and facilitate a good resolution.

Back to top

Once a teen is vaccinated, can they go out with friends?

It takes about two weeks after the second dose to fully develop the immune response. The first dose primes your body for the second dose. It doesn’t provide significant immunity on its own.
Even after the second dose, people need to make good choices. Gathering in small groups with other people who were vaccinated is OK, but we haven’t had enough people in the community vaccinated to take off our masks in large groups or go to parties, especially when we don’t know if everyone else is vaccinated.

Social distancing, along with masks and hand-washing, still are critical tools in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Back to top

What are the most severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?

In very rare cases, some people who have gotten the vaccine have experienced allergic reactions shortly after getting the shot. That’s why you and your child will be asked to wait at least 15 minutes after the shot to watch for a reaction. This could include shortness of breath, chest pain or swelling. Anyone giving the shot is required to have medication on hand to reverse an allergic reaction. Anyone who has an allergic reaction to the first dose will not be eligible for a second dose; and those who have had allergic reactions to components in the vaccine, such as polyethylene glycol, in the past should not get the shot.

Back to top

Should immunocompromised children get the vaccine?

Immunocompromised kids potentially are at risk for getting more severe COVID-19 and long-term complications from the coronavirus itself. If a child has an immunocompromised condition, talk with their health care provider about their individual condition.

Back to top

Do we know what the long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine might be?

The vaccine has been shown safe and effective in clinical trials and in the millions who have been vaccinated so far. However, we can’t tell whether there will be any effects five or 10 years from now. What we do know is that COVID-19 kills people. It can damage just about any organ in the body, including the heart, lungs and brain. It can be spread easily from someone with no symptoms or just a mild case to someone who can develop a severe, life-threatening case. The vaccines not only prevent disease in many cases, they also lessen the severity of disease in those who get sick despite being vaccinated.

How can I check that my vaccine appointment has been scheduled and the location?

You can confirm the date, time and location of your appointment by signing in to your child’s free MyNortonChart account. You’ll need proxy access to see your child’s information. If you don’t already have proxy access, sign up here.

If you do not receive a confirmation email, your child’s appointment may not have been scheduled successfully. Please try again and make sure that you click “Schedule It” at the end of the scheduling process.
Back to top

COVID

COVID-19 Vaccines

Norton Children’s has opened COVID-19 vaccination appointments for kids ages 12 and older.
Schedule Online


COVID-19 Tests

Schedule Online

Call (502) 861-4611, option 1

Kids may have subtle differences in COVID-19 symptoms

COVID-19 symptoms in kids are largely the same as adults, but there can be subtle differences. Common COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever or both, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There […]

Read Full Story

How soon after COVID-19 exposure should a child get tested?

Because they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, children under 12 should quarantine immediately after exposure to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Exposure definitions for children in K-12 school: If all children are wearing masks, […]

Read Full Story

Pequeño repunte en los casos de COVID-19 en el Norton Children’s Hospital; se anima la vacunación

This post is also available in English Después de semanas de no tener niños internados en Norton Children’s Hospital con COVID-19, ahora hay típicamente dos o tres en el hospital en cualquier momento que están […]

Read Full Story

Small uptick in COVID-19 cases at Norton Children’s Hospital; vaccination encouraged

Pequeño repunte en los casos de COVID-19 en el Norton Children’s Hospital; se anima la vacunación After weeks with no children admitted to Norton Children’s Hospital with COVID-19, there are now typically two or three […]

Read Full Story

Norton Children’s Research Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, to participate in COVID-19 investigational vaccine clinical trial for children ages 6 months to 4 years

The Norton Children’s Research Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, will participate in a phase 2/3 clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 investigational vaccine for healthy children ages 6 months to 4 years. […]

Read Full Story
Related Stories

Kids may have subtle differences in COVID-19 symptoms

COVID-19 symptoms in kids are largely the same as adults, but there can be subtle differences. Common COVID-19 symptoms include cough, fever or both, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There […]

Read Full Story

How soon after COVID-19 exposure should a child get tested?

Because they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, children under 12 should quarantine immediately after exposure to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Exposure definitions for children in K-12 school: If all children are wearing masks, […]

Read Full Story

Pequeño repunte en los casos de COVID-19 en el Norton Children’s Hospital; se anima la vacunación

This post is also available in English Después de semanas de no tener niños internados en Norton Children’s Hospital con COVID-19, ahora hay típicamente dos o tres en el hospital en cualquier momento que están […]

Read Full Story

Small uptick in COVID-19 cases at Norton Children’s Hospital; vaccination encouraged

Pequeño repunte en los casos de COVID-19 en el Norton Children’s Hospital; se anima la vacunación After weeks with no children admitted to Norton Children’s Hospital with COVID-19, there are now typically two or three […]

Read Full Story

Norton Children’s Research Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, to participate in COVID-19 investigational vaccine clinical trial for children ages 6 months to 4 years

The Norton Children’s Research Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, will participate in a phase 2/3 clinical trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 investigational vaccine for healthy children ages 6 months to 4 years. […]

Read Full Story

Search our entire site.