An infectious disease expert shares information about the COVID-19 vaccine for young kids

On June 17, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of the COVID‑19 vaccine in children as young as 6 months old. The authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 brings a long-anticipated sigh of relief for many parents. Despite feelings of excitement, it's likely that many parents have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for their young child. Will it work? Is it safe? Is it worth it to vaccinate young children? 

Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., Director of Infectious Disease at Children's Health℠ and Professor at UT Southwestern, answers these questions and more to help parents feel confident in their decision.

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Is the COVID‑19 vaccine safe for children under 5?

Hundreds of millions of adults and children age 5 and older have safely received COVID‑19 vaccines. Experts have closely studied and monitored the vaccine, and data has proven that the COVID‑19 is safe and effective.

In order for the COVID‑19 vaccine to be authorized for use in children under 5, it had to meet high standards for effectiveness and safety. In clinical trials, researchers found the vaccine to be safe, well-tolerated and produce a good antibody response in children under age 5. Experts will continue to monitor the COVID‑19 vaccine in children to ensure its safety.

Why should parents vaccinate children under 5 for COVID‑19?

While young children have less risk of serious complications from COVID‑19 than adults, that risk is not zero. This is especially true for children with health conditions that put them at high risk for illness, such as obesity, asthma, neurological disorders and heart defects.

The FDA reports that children under 5 have accounted for 3.3% of reported COVID‑19 cases to date, but hospitalization and death rates in this age group are higher than in older children and teens. During the Omicron spike, children ages 6 months to 4 years accounted for 24% of all pediatric hospitalizations in the ICU due to COVID‑19.

In addition to preventing serious illness, vaccinating children under age 5 include will help reduce community spread of COVID‑19. It can also help protect children if a new, more contagious variant emerges.

My child already had COVID‑19. Should they get the vaccine?

Yes, your child should get the COVID‑19 vaccine even if they've already had COVID‑19. Getting vaccinated after infection can help prevent reinfection and future illness.

Get more answers to your frequently asked questions about the vaccine.