Top ten reasons to vaccinate your child against COVID
(Updated June 24, 2022)
Have you vaccinated your children against COVID? Vaccines are available for all kids ages six months and older. Here are ten reasons to vaccinate your child today!
We know that many families have questions or may be hesitant. Please talk with your child’s doctor for additional information.
- It is safe!
The mRNA vaccine is new but it has been studied for more than a decade in various forms of research. Since the FDA and CDC have authorized the vaccine, nearly 28 million children have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States[i], and even more worldwide. That’s more than five times the number of people in the whole state of Minnesota! The vaccine has a good track record; serious side effects have been rare and are closely monitored.
- Children can become very ill from COVID.
Over 1,200 children have died from COVID since the start of the pandemic[ii]. Many more have been hospitalized. While children have not been as affected as adults, every preventable child death is a tragedy. Unfortunately, many of these children were healthy before getting sick with COVID. We cannot always predict which child will become seriously ill. Our youngest children under age 5 suffered the most during the latest Omicron surge and were more likely to be hospitalized with COVID compared with older kids [iii].
- Children can have long-term health effects even after recovering from COVID.
Fatigue, “brain fog,” shortness of breath, body aches, headaches, lightheadedness lasting for weeks to months… “Long-haul COVID” has impacted many people worldwide after COVID infection. Even mild illness from COVID can still lead to these long COVID symptoms. And children are suffering from this as well[iv]. We have learned from other infections that late or long-term effects can sometimes be more problematic than the initial infection. This is the case for measles, for example, which can cause an inflammation in the brain many months or years after measles infection. As COVID is a new illness, we do not yet know how the infection may affect the body in the future.
- COVID vaccines work!
The initial vaccine studies for children over five years found that two doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine were greater than 90% effective in preventing infection from COVID[v][vi] . And even with new strains of the virus, such as Omicron, the vaccines for all age groups were still important in preventing serious life-threatening illness[vii]. Booster doses for older children can increase the resistance to the Omicron strains as well.
- Vaccination protects vulnerable friends and family.
Children are part of a larger community. Each day they may come in contact with older grandparents, newborn babies, young infants, pregnant women, children, or adults who have a compromised immune system. And even otherwise healthy adults can become very ill from COVID. Vaccination decreases the chance that your child may pass COVID on to someone else.
- COVID vaccines protect your child even more than previous COVID infections alone.
Vaccines are amazing in many ways. They activate different parts of our immune system, readying our body’s “soldiers” for action at the first evidence of the virus. Many children have already had COVID infection over these past two years. But scientists have found that COVID vaccination, even after COVID infection, provides even better protection against future COVID illness than not receiving the vaccine at all[viii]. The COVID virus has not gone away, and we continue to see waves of infection. Why not give your child’s body all the armor possible in preparation for the next battle?
- COVID vaccine side effects are better for younger children than adults.
Body aches, headaches, sore arm, fever are all signs that the immune system is responding to the vaccine. But they certainly can be unpleasant and disruptive. Fortunately, for younger children, these side effects are less common than for adults[ix]. This may be partly due to the fact that the dose of vaccine is much smaller. The dose of Pfizer vaccine for children 5-11 years of age is only one-third the dose given to older children and adults. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children six months to five years are only one-tenth and one-quarter the dose for adults, respectively. Giving an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (“Tylenol”) or ibuprofen to children experiencing these side effects works very well to improve the symptoms.
- Prevent disruptions in activities and work.
COVID is to blame for so many missed moments over these past two years. We can all recount sadness and frustration from missed days of school or work, canceled birthday parties, weddings, and family gatherings. Vaccination gives your child a better chance of attending all those fun activities. Make this a summer without disruption!
- Your provider and clinic can make it easy and low-stress.
Many children hate needles! At Hennepin Healthcare and many clinics and pharmacies around the state, options are available to decrease the pain and stress of vaccination. Ask your vaccine provider about these options, including numbing cream, “shot blockers,” Buzzy Bee, and ice packs, among others. For locations throughout the state, visit Find My Vaccine to locate a vaccine provider near you.
Sweet rewards are definitely in order for every child after the vaccine. A favorite candy or scoop of ice cream is the perfect way to thank our kids for protecting themselves and their families!