Updated July 6, 2022

Why Vaccination is Important for Children and Teens

Illustration of two teens with their CDC


Vaccination is a key measure to protect everyone, especially those who are at high risk, from COVID-19. Children are generally at lower risk for severe illness from COVID-19. However, children can still get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, spread it to others, become very ill, and experience other complications including multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a condition that causes different organs to become inflamed, and “long COVID.”

COVID-19 vaccination for children 6 months and older has many benefits, such as

  • Helping prevent kids from getting really sick with COVID-19—while no vaccine is 100% effective, getting vaccinated can help prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death if they do get sick
  • Protecting vulnerable family members or younger siblings who are not eligible for vaccination
  • Fewer sick days and less time off from school, sports, and other activities

Vaccination not only protects your child, but also helps protect your family, the kids in your child’s classroom and the community. While children who have underlying medical conditions may be more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19, children without underlying conditions may also experience severe illness. Approximately 1 in 3 children younger than 18 years old who were hospitalized for COVID-19 have no underlying conditions.

Learn more


The Vaccine is Safe for Children

Pfizer-BioNTech

  • The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has undergone clinical trials for youth for the age ranges of 6 months - 4 years and 5 - 11 years. About 4,500 children ages 6 months to 4 years participated in clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine. This group’s immune response to the three-dose series was similar to that of older participants. No serious side effects were detected during the study, which is ongoing.
  • During clinical trials for ages 5-11, 3,100 participants received the vaccine. Immune responses were similar to those of people ages 16 – 25. The vaccine was almost 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 for ages 5 – 11. No serious side effects were detected during the study, which is ongoing.
  • During clinical trials, 1,131 participants ages 12-15 received the vaccine. More than half the participants were followed for safety for at least two months following the second dose. Learn more.

Pfizer-BioNTech, the FDA and CDC continue to monitor the vaccine’s safety. The FDA has determined that the vaccine meets the safety and efficacy standards for emergency use authorization (EUA) for these age groups, finding that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the known and potential risk.

Moderna

  • The Moderna vaccine has also undergone clinical trials for use in youth. Approximately 6,300 participants ages 6 months to 5 years participated in the trial for the Moderna vaccine. The vaccine was 50% effective in preventing COVID-19 in this age group.
  • Approximately 3,000 participants ages 6 – 11 years participated in the clinical trial for the Moderna vaccine. This group’s immune response was comparable to that of adults.
  • About 3,700 participants ages 12-17 participated in the clinical trial for the Moderna vaccine, which was 93% effective in preventing COVID-19 in this group.

No serious side effects have been detected during the clinical trials for these age groups. These studies are ongoing, and Moderna, the FDA and CDC continue to monitor the vaccines' safety.

The FDA has determined that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines meet the safety and efficacy standards for emergency use authorization (EUA) for these age groups, finding that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the known and potential risk. Serious health events after COVID-19 vaccination have been rare.

Learn more about the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines clinical trials.


Emergency Use Authorization (EUA)

An EUA makes it possible for the FDA to provide vaccines as soon as possible during an emergency while still conducting a thorough review of data collected from clinical trials. The Pfizer vaccine has already received full FDA approval for individuals ages 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine has received full approval for use in people ages 18 and older.

As with other EUAs, the EUAs granted for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were also reviewed by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.


      Sources

      “COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last modified June 19, 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html

      “Vaccinating Youth,” Washington State Department of Health, last modified June 27, 2022, https://www.doh.wa.gov/emergencies/covid19/vaccineinformation/vaccinatingyouth.