Kids’ COVID Vaccine: Myths vs. Facts

Susan Heinlen Spalding, MD, Senior Medical Advisor, Children’s Health Fund

COVID vaccines are now available to children ages 12 and older in the U.S., and trials for younger ages are underway. But misinformation about the vaccines’ safety is still widespread. When it comes to vaccinating children, concerns can be even more intense, especially for parents and caregivers. So what is true and what isn’t? We address five common myths about COVID vaccines for children.

Myth: Vaccines have long-term detrimental effects on children.

Fact: No licensed vaccines have been found to have an unexpected long-term safety problem that was found years or decades after introduction. The safety follow-up for COVID vaccines is essentially the same as it is for all vaccine trials. Most side effects from all vaccines occur in the first six weeks after someone gets the vaccine. Source: CHOP, AAP Media Guide

Myth: Children are not at risk from COVID, so they don’t need to be vaccinated.

Fact: A year ago, children made up only 3% of total COVID cases in the U.S., but the numbers of infected children have been rising and now make up 24% of all new cases. Kids typically get less severe COVID disease and yet thousands of kids have been hospitalized and hundreds have died. Some children have had longer-term symptoms from the virus, and we still do not fully understand the consequences of this infection. There is now a safe and effective vaccine that can protect children from these risks. Source: AAP, NIH

Myth: COVID vaccines have caused deaths and aren’t safe.

Fact: There has been no causal link to the COVID vaccine in deaths that have been reported to the government’s Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System. However, there may be a causal relationship between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and blood clots that have caused death in very rare cases.

American Academy of Pediatrics infectious disease experts analyzed the data on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy from research thus far, and made a recommendation that all eligible children should receive the vaccine. Source: CDC

Myth: COVID vaccines are dangerous, that’s why use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was discontinued.

Fact: Use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused out of an abundance of caution. The vaccine is associated with a rare type of blood clot formed in the brain, impacting less than 1 in 1 million people.

In contrast, people with COVID are up to 10 times more likely to get a blood clot than people who get the vaccine. Source: Health.com, USA Today

Myth: COVID vaccines can cause fertility issues in young people.

Fact: There is currently no scientific evidence that any vaccines, including COVID vaccines, cause fertility problems. The vaccine is safe for teens in puberty as well as for pregnant individuals and people who wish to become pregnant.

Pregnant women are more at-risk for severe COVID cases, and getting the vaccine prevents serious COVID disease for people who want to get pregnant, as well as their families. Source: CDC, ACOG, Star Tribune

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