Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

The CDC has giv­en final approval of the Pfiz­er and Mod­er­na COVID-19 vac­cines for chil­dren ages 6 months and up. We now have pedi­atric COVID-19 vac­cines avail­able and inter­est­ed fam­i­lies can sched­ule appoint­ments through MyChart.

We are vac­ci­nat­ing chil­dren by appoint­ment at our large vac­cine site in Lisle — 801 Ogden Avenue (Pfiz­er), Glen Ellyn — 430 Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue (Mod­er­na), and Tin­ley Park — 17495 La Grange Road (Mod­er­na) which will allow for safe dis­tanc­ing and impor­tant­ly, close obser­va­tion of chil­dren fol­low­ing vac­ci­na­tion by our skilled care team members. 

Sep­tem­ber 13, 2022 — The CDC has strength­ened its COVID-19 Vac­cine boost­er recommendations: 

Boost­er:

Every­one ages 5 years and old­er should get all pri­ma­ry series dos­es, and the boost­er dose rec­om­mend­ed for them by CDC, if eligible:

  • Every­one ages 5 – 11 should receive the orig­i­nal (mono­va­lent) boost­er at least 2 months after com­plet­ing their pri­ma­ry series dos­es. There is cur­rent­ly no time­line for when the biva­lent boost­er will be avail­able for those under 12 years old. 
  • Every­one ages 12 years and old­er should receive one updat­ed Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na (biva­lent) boost­er at least 2 months after com­plet­ing their pri­ma­ry series doses.
    • This includes every­one who has received all pri­ma­ry series dos­es and peo­ple who have pre­vi­ous­ly received one or more orig­i­nal (mono­va­lent) boosters.
    • At this time, every­one ages 12 – 17 years old may only receive the updat­ed Pfiz­er biva­lent boost­er. Every­one ages 18 and up may receive either the updat­ed Mod­er­na or Pfiz­er biva­lent booster. 
    • Any­one age 12 or old­er will receive the updat­ed biva­lent boosters.

COVID-19 Pedi­atric Vac­cine FAQ

What are the cur­rent COVID-19 vac­cines avail­able for pedi­atric patients?

The avail­able Covid-19 vac­cines are NOT weight-based but rather based on immune sys­tem age/​maturity and there­fore, the vac­cine dos­ing becomes small­er the younger the recip­i­ent. The Pfiz­er vac­cine is giv­en as 30 mcg dos­es for ages 12 and up, 10 mcg for chil­dren ages 5 – 11, and 3 mcg for chil­dren 6 months to 4 years. For the newest eli­gi­ble age group, chil­dren 6 months to 4 years, this vac­cine is giv­en as a 3‑dose series, with the first 2 dos­es giv­en 21 days apart and the 3rd dose at least 2 months after the 2nd dose. The Mod­er­na vac­cine is dosed sim­i­lar­ly, 100 mcg for ages 12 and up, 50 mcg for chil­dren ages 6 to 11, and 25 mcg for chil­dren 6 months to 5 years. The Mod­er­na vac­cine is admin­is­tered as a 2‑dose series giv­en 28 days apart.

Child’s AgePfiz­er-BioN­TechMod­er­na
6 months — 4 years old 3‑dose pri­ma­ry series2‑dose pri­ma­ry series
5 – 17 years old 2‑dose pri­ma­ry series2‑dose pri­ma­ry series

Which vac­cine should I choose for my child?

Both vac­cines are safe and effec­tive. We under­stand you may have some addi­tion­al fac­tors to con­sid­er before choos­ing which vac­cine you would like your child to receive. Cur­rent­ly, the Pfiz­er vac­cine is offered at our Lisle loca­tion and Mod­er­na is in the Glen Ellyn and Tin­ley Park loca­tions. Please speak with your provider if you have spe­cif­ic ques­tions about your vac­cine choice.

Why should my child get this vac­cine? I thought chil­dren were low risk.

There have been over 6 mil­lion COVID ill­ness­es in chil­dren in the Unit­ed States. Up to 30% of chil­dren sick enough to be hos­pi­tal­ized had NO under­ly­ing health issues or risk fac­tors. There have been over 600 pedi­atric deaths due to COVID with over 100 pedi­atric deaths in this age group alone. Although chil­dren are at low risk for severe COVID ill­ness, hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, and death, they remain at risk for post-COVID or COVID long-haul syn­dromes with symp­toms of fatigue, brain fog, poor appetite, etc., last­ing for weeks to months after even mild cas­es of COVID.

How effec­tive is this vaccine?

When the pri­ma­ry series of the vac­cines avail­able are com­plet­ed, they have reli­ably demon­strat­ed that they are extreme­ly pro­tec­tive against the sever­est com­pli­ca­tions of Covid-19, which includes hos­pi­tal­iza­tion and even death. The Pfiz­er vac­cine series for chil­dren ages 6 months to 4 years was found to elic­it a sim­i­lar immune response in the age groups stud­ied when com­pared to old­er recip­i­ents of the vac­cine. The Mod­er­na tri­al found the vac­cine to be approx­i­mate­ly 50% effec­tive in pre­vent­ing Covid 19 in chil­dren 6 to 23 months, and more than 36% effec­tive in chil­dren ages 2 to 5 that received the vaccine.

Can this vac­cine be giv­en at the same time as my child’s influen­za vac­cine or oth­er sched­uled vaccines?

Yes. COVID vac­cines can be giv­en at the same time as the influen­za vac­cine or any oth­er sched­uled child­hood immunization.

What are the expect­ed side effects?

Vac­cine side effects are com­mon but gen­er­al­ly mild. Chil­dren in these tri­als expe­ri­enced fevers, headaches, fatigue, chills, and gen­er­al­ized body aches. Some chil­dren expe­ri­enced swollen lymph nodes and GI upset/​diarrhea. There were no severe side effects report­ed in these clin­i­cal tri­als. Sim­i­lar to old­er kids and adults, chil­dren will be asked to wait for 15 min­utes after receipt of their vac­cines, 30 min­utes if there is a his­to­ry of anaphylaxis.

What about myocardi­tis (inflam­ma­tion of the heart)?

Myocardi­tis is a very rare side effect that was iden­ti­fied to occur more com­mon­ly in young males after their 2nd dose of either the Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na Covid-19 vac­cine. The risk was found to be high­er in males aged 18 to 24 for the Mod­er­na vac­cine and aged 12 to 17 for the Pfiz­er. For those that devel­oped this rare side effect, fur­ther safe­ty mon­i­tor­ing found that most cas­es of myocardi­tis asso­ci­at­ed with the vac­cines resolved rather quick­ly with lit­tle inter­ven­tion and no report­ed impact on qual­i­ty of life. When this rare side effect occurs, it is gen­er­al­ly with­in 7 days of vac­cine and presents with chest dis­com­fort and fevers. No chil­dren have died of COVID vac­cine-induced myocardi­tis and, in gen­er­al, myocardi­tis due to vac­cine is milder than myocardi­tis due to COVID infection.

What about long-term side effects of mRNA vaccines?

Long-term side effects are very unlike­ly based on how mRNA vac­cines work and the evi­dence we have gath­ered from mil­lions of dos­es of the vac­cine already admin­is­tered world­wide. Tiny frag­ments of mRNA are con­tained in a lipid (fat) par­ti­cle and deliv­ered into the mus­cle. The lipid par­ti­cle helps pre­vent the mRNA from break­ing down dur­ing deliv­ery. With­in a few hours, the lipid dis­solves and releas­es the mRNA to deliv­er the mes­sage for cells to start mak­ing spike pro­teins. mRNA does not enter the nucle­us of the cell where DNA is stored, and it can­not change a person’s DNA. mRNA itself also can­not be con­vert­ed to DNA. After this mes­sage is deliv­ered to the cells, mRNA com­plete­ly dis­in­te­grates and is cleared from the body with­in 72 hours. For as long as we have had vac­cines in his­to­ry, all seri­ous vac­cine events occur with­in 6 – 8 weeks of a vac­cine’s admin­is­tra­tion. We now have more than 1.5 years of vac­cine data, with mil­lions of dos­es admin­stered, show­ing these vac­cines are safe and effective.

Are there any risks to future fertility?

Stud­ies in indi­vid­u­als of repro­duc­tive age show no decreas­es in sperm counts and no increased risk of mis­car­riage. To date, there have been thou­sands of suc­cess­ful preg­nan­cies after vac­ci­na­tion. For young peo­ple who have begun men­stru­at­ing there could be a tem­po­rary change in men­stru­al cycles due to the mount­ing of an immune response to the vac­cine. At present, experts in obstet­rics, gyne­col­o­gy, and mater­­nal-fetal med­i­cine all endorse receipt of the COVID vaccine.

What if my child has already had COVID? Don’t they already have antibodies?

Stud­ies show that nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty is both quite high and fair­ly com­mon in chil­dren. Sim­i­lar to vac­cine pro­tec­tion over time, how­ev­er, nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty wanes. Nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty also makes anti­bod­ies less pre­dictably, and it cur­rent­ly appears the vac­cine is more pro­tec­tive against cur­rent COVID vari­ants. Receiv­ing the COVID vac­cine after COVID ill­ness also strength­ens the immune sys­tem response. There is no need to​“wait” to receive the vac­cine after COVID ill­ness, as soon as your child has recov­ered symp­to­mati­cal­ly and has com­plet­ed quar­an­tine, it is OK to receive the COVID vaccine.

COVID-19 Pedi­atric Boost­er FAQ

Who can get a booster?

Every­one ages 5 and old­er have now been approved for a COVID-19 boost­er shot. Espe­cial­ly chil­dren and indi­vid­u­als that have under­ly­ing med­ical con­di­tions (ie dia­betes, asth­ma, oth­er health risk fac­tors), are immuno­com­pro­mised or live with an immuno­com­pro­mised indi­vid­ual or fam­i­ly mem­ber not eli­gi­ble for vac­ci­na­tion (<5 yrs of age).

When should they get a booster?

Boost­ers can be giv­en 5 months after the com­ple­tion of their pri­ma­ry series (after the 2nd dose, or the 3rd dose pri­ma­ry series if immunocompromised).

What if they have already had a covid infec­tion, should they still get a booster?

Get­ting a boost­er after you have had a COVID-19 infec­tion can still add pro­tec­tion to your immune sys­tem, help pre­vent anoth­er COVID-19 infec­tion, and pre­vent seri­ous com­pli­ca­tions or hos­pi­tal­iza­tion from the disease.

Will this be the last boost­er they need?

It is very like­ly that new boost­ers will be need­ed in the future, we just don’t know when yet. Vac­cine and med­ical experts are col­lect­ing data to deter­mine lev­els of immu­ni­ty from cur­rent dos­es and infec­tions, whether new muta­tions will deter­mine a need for a new for­mu­la­tion of vac­cine, and if immu­ni­ty dif­fers across dif­fer­ent age groups.

School is end­ing soon; can I wait to get their boost­er till fall?

Chil­dren that have com­plet­ed their full vac­ci­na­tion series, are oth­er­wise healthy, will have low-risk expo­sures this sum­mer, and have addi­tion­al immu­ni­ty from a recent infec­tion, may elect to hold off on boost­ing until their immu­ni­ty like­ly begins to decline in anoth­er 2 – 3 months.

How can I learn more about whether a boost­er is right for my child?

With school phys­i­cal sea­son upon us, your child’s annu­al phys­i­cal is always a good time to ask ques­tions and get guid­ance about pre­ven­tive health care deci­sions such as vac­ci­na­tion with your child’s pedi­a­tri­cian. Trust­ed sources such as the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pedi­atrics (www​.healthy​chil​dren​.org) and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (www​.cdc​.gov) are also reli­able sources of infor­ma­tion and have answers to fre­quent­ly asked questions.