Should you get a COVID-19 vaccination for your child?

New Jersey has begun vaccinating children as young as 12 against COVID-19. Here's what you need to know.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention granted emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be given to adolescents. In a unanimous vote, regulators said the vaccine was safe and effective in children between the ages of 12-15. It is the same two-shot regimen approved for adults.

Should I get my child vaccinated against COVID-19?

That is a decision that should be made by parents in consultation with your pediatrician and in consideration of your child's medical history, underlying conditions and various risk factors. Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli are urging parents to get their kids vaccinated. Murphy also urged parents to talk to their kids and explain the benefits. Johns Hopkins University Medical experts also note the benefits of vaccinating children to protect the broader community because they can transmit the virus to others even if no symptoms are present.

Are there side effects?

Possibly. When Pfizer applied to the FDA for authorization to use their vaccine on kids between the ages of 12-15, they noted similar side effects experienced by some adults who had gotten the vaccine. Pain at the injection site was common. It's possible your child could run a fever and also have head and body aches and feel more tired than usual. Symptoms generally go away within 48 hours. Potential long-term side effects are not known.

Is the COVID-19 vaccination safe for my child?

That is a question that you should discuss with your pediatrician.
However, Johns Hopkins notes: The FDA and the CDC examine the available clinical trial data before deciding whether to authorize vaccination among age groups and they will work with vaccine manufacturers to continue to watch for any signs of safety issues.

How/where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine for my child?

Only at locations that are offering the Pfizer vaccine. New Jersey's mega-vaccination site in Burlington County is vaccinating children as young as 12. More of the state run sites are expected to follow. CVS will also offer vaccines to children between the ages of 12-15. However, not all sites have the Pfizer vaccine and you will likely be required to make an appointment. You will need to sign a parental consent form and be present when your child is scheduled for their shot.

Will children under the age of 12 be eligible for a vaccine?

Eventually. Children, in general, are less likely to suffer from serious complications from being infected with COVID-19 so research has focused on approval of the vaccine in more vulnerable age groups. Testing is underway on safety and effectiveness on COVID vaccines on children as young as 2. Based on that research, its possible the FDA could authorize use of a vaccine in children as young as 2 in the months ahead.

Is a COVID-19 vaccine required to attend schools in New Jersey?

No. At least, not yet. While several New Jersey colleges and universities are requiring students to provide proof they have been fully vaccinated to return to campus in the fall, there is no such requirement for kids attending New Jersey's public schools. There has been preliminary discussion of adding a COVID vaccination to the list of required vaccinations to attend school in the future. Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlese, who chairs the Senate Health Committee, has already voiced support for making a COVID vaccine a requirement to attend school. However, no such legislation has been introduced. It is not likely to be a requirement when public schools fully reopen in the Fall.

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