Kids and the COVID-19 Vaccines

Parents/legal guardians can schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments for their children using MyChart or by calling their doctor's office. Learn more about timing and eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

Is my child eligible to receive the vaccine?

Children ages 6 months and older can be vaccinated against COVID-19. Parents can make appointments for children ages 6 months and older to receive the Pfizer vaccine at one of our Primary Care or Pediatric centers. Schedule your appointment using MyChart. If you do not have MyChart, sign up today.

Which brand of vaccines are authorized for children?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are authorized for children ages 6 months and older. Henry Ford Health offers only the Pfizer vaccine.

Why does Henry Ford Health only offer Pfizer?

While all the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, they have different storage and dosing requirements. Having the same brand of COVID-19 vaccine at our many Primary Care and Pediatric centers, which also offer all other routine vaccines, is more efficient and safer at every step – from ordering to storage, transport and delivery to our patients.

What should I bring to my child’s vaccination appointment?

Any child under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Please bring your own ID and your child’s insurance card, if you have one. Everyone over age 2 years must wear a mask while inside any Henry Ford Health building where patient care is provided. If you are coming for a second or third shot or a booster, please bring the vaccination card you received for your child after they had the first shot. If you do not have your card or forget to bring it, you should still come for your appointment.

I have an appointment coming up for a checkup/other vaccines for my child – can they get the COVID vaccine or a Pfizer booster then?

In most cases, yes, if your child already has an appointment scheduled for a check-up or to receive other vaccines, your child can receive the COVID vaccine or a Pfizer booster at that appointment. You can come to your appointment and request the COVID-19 vaccine at that time for your child.

Do I need to wait for an appointment with my child’s doctor to get the vaccine?

No, you can schedule a vaccine appointment with a nurse at any Henry Ford Primary Care location for your child. To schedule an appointment, log into MyChart, choose the option “COVID-19 vaccine,” answer a few questions, then pick the location and time that works for you. The appointment does not need to be at the location where your child receives care.

I’m unsure about getting the vaccine for my child. What should I do?

We encourage you to talk to your pediatrician or family physician. We understand that some parents feel hesitant. Your child’s doctor will partner with you to answer your questions, go over your concerns, and help you make a decision for your child.

How effective is the Pfizer vaccine for children?

  • In vaccine trials, the Pfizer vaccine was 80.3% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children ages 6 months through 4 years after 3 doses.
  • In children ages 5 – 11 years, it is 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19.
  • In children ages 12–18 years, it is 93% effective

How do we know the Pfizer vaccine is safe for kids?

COVID-19 vaccines have undergone—and will continue to undergo—the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. More than 11.9 billion doses have been administered throughout the world. The safety profile is similar to placebo, which means that there was very little difference in allergic reactions and side effects between children who received the vaccine and children who did not. Before the FDA can authorize any vaccine for emergency use, the vaccine must go through a rigorous vetting process.

  • The Pfizer vaccine trial for children ages 6 months through 4 years included approximately 4,526 children in the dose 1 and 2 portion of the vaccine trial. A total of 1,678 children from the dose 1 and 2 trial were studied in the dose 3 portion of the vaccine trial.
  • The Pfizer vaccine’s safety was studied in approximately 3,100 children ages 5 – 11 who received the vaccine.
  • The vaccine’s safety was studied in about 1,100 youth ages 12 – 15 who received the vaccine.

No serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing studies. The exact dosage and the time between doses were studied. In addition, the Pfizer vaccine has been given to hundreds of millions of people around the world safely and effectively. The mRNA technology used to manufacture the vaccine has been used for decades in other treatments.

Will my child have long-term side effects from the vaccine?

No vaccine has caused side effects beginning more than two months after receiving the vaccine. All vaccines are made to disintegrate safely in the body. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to monitored more intensively than any other vaccine in U.S. history.

Are there preservatives in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children?

No, there are no preservatives in the vaccine. In fact, once a vial is opened, it is discarded after 12 hours even if all the doses are not given.

Is the child’s Pfizer vaccine the same as the adult vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine for children has the same active ingredients as the vaccine for ages 12 and up, but it is a smaller dose. It was carefully adjusted to be effective with the smallest dose and least amount of side effects. Smaller needles specially designed for children are also used.

  • The dose for children ages 5 –11 years is one-third the size of the adult dose.
  • The dose for children ages 6 months through 4 years is one-tenth the size of the adult dose.

Is the dose based on a child’s age or weight?

The dose of the vaccine is based on the age of the child on the day of vaccination. It is not based on weight.

Is it given in separate shots? How far apart?

For children ages five and older, it is given in two doses, three weeks (21 days) apart.

For children ages 6 months through 4 years, it is given in three doses:
Dose 1
Dose 2: 21 days after dose #1
Dose 3: 8 weeks/2 months after dose #2

How important is the third dose for children 6 months through 4 years old?

The third dose is very important. In vaccine trials, protection after 2 doses was very low, about 14.5%. After dose 3, it rose to 80%. The third dose is key to protecting your child. Please be sure you do not skip dose 3.

Why is the Moderna vaccine only 2 doses for young children and the Pfizer vaccine is 3 doses?

The Moderna vaccine is a higher dose, one-quarter the size of the adult dose. Pfizer’s dose for young children is one-tenth the adult dose. Because it is a higher concentration, only two shots of Moderna are needed to generate a strong immune response. The Pfizer vaccine caused fewer side effects in clinical trials because it is a smaller dose. Both vaccines are safe and effective, and did not cause more side effects in children than in adults.

What if we are not able to come in when we need to get the second or third dose?

The timing for dose 2 and dose 3 can be moved up to four days earlier or later. Please talk to the care team when your child receives dose 1 or 2 about scheduling the next dose.

I’m a patient at Henry Ford Health – can my child get vaccinated there?

As long as your child is also a patient, they can be vaccinated at one of our Pediatric or Family Medicine centers. If you are a patient but your child is not, they cannot be vaccinated at Henry Ford Health.

Where can my child get vaccinated outside of Henry Ford Health?

Visit www.Michigan.gov/covidvaccine for non-Henry Ford Health vaccination options. Some pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers, local health departments, clinics, and other locations also offer COVID-19 vaccines for children. We expect most children under age 5 will be vaccinated at their doctor’s office. Most retail pharmacies in Michigan can vaccinate children age 3 and older; CVS MinuteClinic locations can vaccinate children 18 months and older.

Do I need to ask my child’s doctor if it’s ok to receive the vaccine?

If your child does not have any specific health concerns, you may schedule an appointment without talking to your child’s doctor. If you have concerns or questions that are not answered in these FAQs, please call your pediatrician’s or family doctor’s office.  

What are the side effects for children from the Pfizer vaccine?

For children ages 6 months through 4 years, commonly reported side effects are fever, irritability, drowsiness and decreased appetite.

For children ages 5 –11, commonly reported side effects are injection site pain (sore arm), redness and swelling, fatigue, headache, muscle and/or joint pain, chills, fever, swollen lymph nodes, nausea and decreased appetite.

Side effects were generally mild to moderate in severity and occurred within two days after vaccination, and most went away within one to two days. The vaccine did not cause more side effects in children than in adults.

If your child experiences side effects after vaccination, you can give them Tylenol. But don’t give it to them before vaccination—only after, and only if they experience pain—as it could blunt the immune response.

COVID-19 doesn’t affect young children like it does adults. Why should my child get vaccinated?

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases in children make up 19 percent of total cases, as of April 28, 2022, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Reported COVID-19 cases among children spiked dramatically in 2022 during the Omicron variant winter surge, peaking at 1,150,000 cases reported in one week.

While young children tend to have milder symptoms, they do become sick and can even die from COVID-19. In children, COVID-19 has been linked to other health concerns. One is multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a rare but serious condition in which different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. There have been at least 7,880 cases of MIS-C and 66 deaths from MIS-C since May 2020. In addition, COVID-19 infection has been linked to myocarditis, inflammation of the heart. Other complications include long-haul symptoms that can linger for months.

Vaccinated children are less likely to get sick from the virus and can maintain their normal routines – going to school or daycare, socializing, and taking part in favorite activities. In addition, a child who is vaccinated is less likely get sick and pass COVID-19 to vulnerable people, such as grandparents, other relatives and friends. When more people are vaccinated, is prevents new variants that are resistant to our current vaccines from developing.

Is vaccination needed if my child already had COVID-19?

Yes, if your child had COVID-19 in the past, they should be vaccinated. The vaccine will provide a much higher level of protection that is longer lasting than natural immunity. Vaccination may also prevent your child from getting COVID-19 a second time. If they do get COVID-19, their symptoms will be milder. If your child was recently sick with COVID-19, you should wait until they no longer have symptoms and are feeling better to get the vaccine.

Can an immunocompromised child get vaccinated?

Children who are immunocompromised should get vaccinated. Please see our COVID-19  vaccination chart for guidelines for primary doses and boosters. While their immune systems may not generate as strong a protective response as a non-immunocompromised person, but they will likely receive some protection and benefit from the vaccine. It’s also important that people around them get vaccinated to “cocoon” or protect them from COVID-19 transmission.

Will my child need boosters?

Children ages 5 years and older can receive the updated bivalent Pfizer booster 2 months after their second primary dose.

Will the vaccine cause myocarditis in children?

In pediatric clinical trials, there have been no cases of myocarditis, a rare heart condition that a small amount of people have experienced after vaccination. Myocarditis is more common in adolescent and young men, and is more common with Moderna than Pfizer. However, it is a very rare side effect. The risk of heart inflammation after contracting COVID-19 itself is much higher than it is after vaccination.

If my child is 11 for their first dose and turns 12 before their second dose, which size dose should they get?

Your child should get the dose that is recommended for their age on the day of vaccination. If your child is 11 on the date they receive the first dose, they will receive the dose formulated for children ages 5 – 11. If they are 12 when they return for dose 2, they can receive the adult dose.

If my child is 4 for their first dose and turns 5 before dose 2 or 3, which size dose will they get and how many doses should they receive?

  • If your child is 4 on the date they receive the first dose, but turns 5 years old before dose 2, they will receive the slightly larger dose formulated for ages 5 to 11 for dose 2. The third dose is optional.
  • If your child receives doses 1 and 2 while they are 4, then turns 5 years old before dose 3, your child will receive the slightly larger dose as the third dose.

Can I make an appointment for my child if they have not turned 6 months old yet?

You must wait until your child has reached 6 months of age before you can schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at Henry Ford Health.

Will the vaccine be available for children younger than 6 months of age in the future?

At this time, we don’t expect the COVID-19 vaccines will be available for children younger than 6 months. Pregnant mothers who are vaccinated will transfer protective antibodies to their babies before they are born. This protection will last about 6 months.

My child received a past dose at our local pharmacy/city/county vaccination site. Can we come to Henry Ford Health for the next dose or a booster?

Yes, you may schedule a next dose or a booster at a Henry Ford Health Pediatrics or Family Medicine center, even if your child did not receive the vaccine previously at Henry Ford Health. Please bring your child’s vaccination card with you. Remember that your child must be a Henry Ford Health patient in order to receive the vaccine at Henry Ford Health.  

My child has allergies. Can they get the vaccine? 

  • If your child has allergies to pets, plants, foods, pollen, and dust, they can receive the vaccine.
  • The Pfizer vaccine does not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex.
  • If your child has a history of a severe allergic reaction or carries an Epi-pen, please tell the team at the vaccination site when you arrive for your appointment. If your child is allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, or had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, they should not receive it. Please talk to your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure.
    • The ingredients of the Pfizer vaccine are: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.
  • If your child had an allergic reaction to Miralax or another medication that contains polyethylene glycol (PEG) they should not receive the vaccine. If your child had abdominal pain or discomfort after taking Miralax, these symptoms alone are not an allergic reaction.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s allergies and the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact your child’s pediatrician.

What is an “allergic reaction?”

An allergic reaction happens within minutes to hours of taking a medication. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, itching, a rash, hives, and swelling of the face/lips.

Can my child get myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) from the vaccine?

Myocarditis is a rare side effect seen mostly in men ages 16 to 25 who received a COVID-19 vaccine. Most cases were mild and resolved quickly with no lasting side effects. In younger children, the risk of myocarditis after getting the vaccine is extremely low – 0.01%. The rate of myocarditis in young children who were vaccinated is no higher than it is in children who were not vaccinated.
However, being sick with COVID-19 infection has been linked to cases of myocarditis, which have risen dramatically since March 2020 when the pandemic first began. The data is clear: Your child has a much greater chance of developing myocarditis if they get COVID-19 than they do from a COVID-19 vaccine.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for children who have ADHD?

While COVID-19 vaccine studies have not been done specifically on ADHD, the vaccine research trials included thousands of people from around the world (36,000+ for Pfizer, 30,000+ for Moderna, and 43,000+ for Johnson & Johnson). It is estimated that 2.8% of people have ADHD worldwide. Based on these data, as many as 67,000 people with ADHD were involved in the vaccine trials and no adverse reactions occurred in people with ADHD. If your child has ADHD, it is safe for them to get vaccinated.

Should kids with developmental disabilities get vaccinated?

Kids with developmental disabilities are not more susceptible to COVID-19, but they may have greater challenges when it comes to wearing a mask, washing their hands, avoiding touching their eyes, nose or mouth, and social distancing. For these reasons, they may be at a higher risk for contracting and spreading the virus. For their protection and the protection of others, it is important to vaccinate children with developmental disabilities.

How do I enroll my child in v-safe, the CDC’s Smartphone app where I can report vaccine side effects?

If your child is under 16 you can register yourself (you will not need to enter your vaccine information) and create an account for your child. You will use your cell phone number and register your child or dependent with their name, birthdate and vaccination information. Click here for details.

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