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COVID-19: 5 reasons to vaccinate younger kids

A toddler sits on an exam table as a gloved hand cleans her shoulder.

Kids as young as 6 months can get their COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to make child-sized doses available to young children, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention OK'd the shots.

Why might you want to vaccinate your little ones? Consider the following:

1. The vaccines are safe—and they work. The FDA looked at studies that show that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for young children.

2. Vaccines help prevent serious illness and hospitalizations. The vaccines can help kids avoid getting COVID-19. And it can help them avoid getting very sick if they do get COVID-19. Young and healthy children may not be at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness. But they can still get very sick and have to go to a hospital for treatment. 

3. Kids can get long COVID-19 too. While less common than in adults, some kids who get COVID-19 continue to struggle with symptoms even months after first being infected. Some of the more common symptoms of long COVID-19 are extreme tiredness, trouble concentrating, and joint and muscle pain.

4. COVID-19 disrupts family life. Kids who get sick may miss school, day care and other activities. Parents may miss work to stay home and care for a child.

5. Getting vaccinated helps protect others. Getting the vaccine can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to other members of your family, friends and community.

Vaccine options for young kids

Young children can get one of two approved COVID-19 vaccines. You should choose whichever vaccine is available, CDC suggests. The options for young children are:

  • Moderna. Children ages 6 months through 5 years need two doses of the bivalent vaccine, one month apart. If your child is 6 years old or older, they will only need a single dose of the bivalent booster.
  • Pfizer. Children ages 6 months through 4 years need three doses of the bivalent vaccine. The first two doses are given three weeks apart, followed by a third dose given at least eight weeks after the second dose. If your child is 5 years old or older, they will only need one dose of the bivalent vaccine.

Make sure the older kids—and adults—in your family stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines too. It might be time for a booster shot.

If you have questions about vaccinating your kids, talk to your child's doctor. They can help you understand the risks and benefits.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines

Find out more in our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 3/21/2023

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