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Should my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?

GEHA | October 1, 2021

COVID-19 Health and wellness
Written by: Dr. Jared Dirks

Dr. Jared Dirks is Director of Population Health at GEHA. He is a physician leader and healthcare executive with more than 10 years of experience delivering patient-focused care as well as driving operational and organizational leadership on the provider and managed care platforms.

A) All United States residents (ages 12 and older) are eligible for vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer vaccine is fully FDA approved for people ages 16 and older and is available for ages 12-15 under the FDA’s previous emergency use authorization. Across the country, vaccine programs are available at high schools, community clinics and pharmacies. Vaccination provides the best opportunity to further protect your child from COVID-19 and help get life back to normal.

The vaccine helps prevent kids from getting COVID-19:

Although COVID-19 in children is sometimes milder than in adults, some kids can get severe lung infections, become very sick and require hospitalization. Children can also have complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children that may require intensive care or result in long-lasting symptoms that affect their health and well-being.

The vaccine helps prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19:

Like adults, children also can transmit COVID-19 if they’re infected, even when they have no symptoms. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can protect the child and others, reducing the chance that they transmit the virus to others, including family members and friends who may be more susceptible to severe consequences of the infection.

Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 can help stop other variants from emerging:

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has mutated. One of these variants, the Delta variant, is more contagious than earlier versions of the coronavirus. Cases of COVID-19 are increasing among children, and the Delta variant appears to be playing a role. Reducing viral transmission by getting vaccinated also reduces the chance of mutation into new variants that may be even more dangerous. However, incomplete vaccination, meaning not getting the second shot (for a vaccine that requires two shots), does give variants a chance to emerge.

To see if someone has coronavirus, doctors can do a test that looks for a piece of the virus in the respiratory tract. They also can check for a past infection by doing a blood test that looks for antibodies.

COVID-19 vaccines help protect the community:

Another reason to strongly consider a COVID-19 vaccine for your child is to protect the health of those living and working in your area. Each child or adult infected with the coronavirus can transmit the virus to others. Some of the infected people will become very sick or further spread the virus to others who will become very sick and potentially die.

This transmission also provides a chance for the virus to mutate further and create a new variant that might prove more infectious or resistant to the available vaccines and therapies. Fewer overall infections among the population means less chance of severe infection and death in the community and of dangerous coronavirus variants emerging.