Family Health|Prevention and Wellness
covid vaccine|COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids Under 5

Last Updated April 2024 | This article was created by editorial staff and reviewed by Deepak S. Patel, MD, FAAFP, FACSM

Though it isn’t in the news as much as it was in the beginning, the COVID-19 pandemic is still not over. To help continue to fight the spread of the disease, COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for children as young as 6 months of age. That approval was then endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Path to improved health

If you are the parent of a child from 6 months through 5 years of age, you should talk to their family doctor about getting them vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The FDA recommends that all children, including those that have already had COVID-19, should be vaccinated.

The American Academy of Family Physicians agrees, calling the availability of the vaccines “a relief for family physicians, parents, and caregivers who have anxiously awaited the safety review and authorization of these vaccines.”

There may be a drop in COVID-19 cases; however, the AAFP, FDA and the CDC are still strongly recommending the vaccine for younger children. This is because they can still get sick and spread the virus to those who are more likely to get seriously ill from it. This can include older relatives, such as grandparents, and those who have other health conditions.

There is a great deal of misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines. If you are concerned about the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine for your child, talk to your family physician.

Colorful infographic showing 10 ways to manage a child's COVID-19 symptoms at home

Things to consider

Everyone 6 years and older should get 1 updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve received any original COVID-19 vaccines. Learn More at Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines.

The AAFP, FDA and the CDC have stated that the vaccines are safe for younger children. Some side effects could include:

  • Pain on the leg or arm where the shot was given
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sleepiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability or crying

Headaches, muscle aches, and chills were also reported by some children who were closer to the age of 5 years after the second dose.

Vaccines are available through your child’s family physician, pediatrician, or other primary care professionals. They are also available at hospitals and pharmacies, as well as state and local public health clinics and sites.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Is my child eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Where can I get the vaccine for my child?
  • Is the vaccine dangerous for younger children?
  • What side effects might my child experience?

Acknowledgments: The AAFP “Improving Adult Immunization Rates Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations” Project is supported by a Cooperative Agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (6 NU66IP000681-02-01) (The authors are solely responsible for the content and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC).

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