Wake County Public Health encourages parents to protect their children aged 5-17 with the COVID-19 vaccine – it's safe, effective and available at no cost. Read more about the vaccine for kids: Pfizer-BioNTech (ages 5+) En español
Appointments are REQUIRED for children 5+
Pediatrician offices, pharmacies and children's hospitals are providing vaccine appointments for children in Wake County.
Find other locations near you:
We understand you may have questions about the vaccine. That's why we created the FAQ below to help provide you with answers.
How can I get the COVID-19 vaccine for my child aged five or older?
Our goal is to get kids vaccinated quickly and equitably. Parents can make an appointment to protect their child from COVID-19 at their pediatrician office, through Wake County Public Health or at area pharmacies and children's hospitals. There is plenty of vaccine doses to cover all our kids. The vaccine is available at no cost to everyone. No ID or insurance is needed.
Why get the COVID-19 vaccine for your child aged five or older?
The vaccines are the best way to protect your child from getting seriously ill due to COVID-19. Parents have already done so much to keep kids healthy with virtual school, limiting playdates and canceling travel plans. The COVID-19 vaccine is an added layer of protection that is necessary to put the pandemic behind us.
The two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 shot was nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children.
What side effects can my child get from the vaccine?
The side effects for children five and up are very similar to adults. After being vaccinated, some children reported temporary reactions, such as swelling from the injection, tiredness or feeling bad for a day or two. These are normal symptoms and signs of a proper immune response, similar to those experienced when receiving other routine vaccinations. These reactions typically last no longer than a day and a half. Your child cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Please consult your pediatrician if you have any concerns about the way your child is feeling after vaccination. View more information here
Contact your doctor or healthcare provider:
- If the redness or tenderness where your child got the shot gets WORSE after 24 hours
- If your child's side effects are worrying you or do not seem to be going away after a few days
If your child gets a COVID-19 vaccine and you think your child might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.
What should my child do after the vaccine?
Your child may have redness, swelling from the injection, or tiredness for a day or two. These are normal symptoms and signs of a proper immune response, similar to those experienced when receiving other routine vaccinations.
Over-the-counter medicine is available for any pain and discomfort your child may experience after getting vaccinated. Note that your child can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if they have no other medical reasons that prevent them from taking these medications normally.
All vaccinated people should continue to follow the 3Ws - wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart from others they do not live with and washing hands frequently.
We're all in this together. Vaccinating children ages five and up will increase our whole community's protection against COVID-19.
How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for kids?
Children across the country have participated in the vaccine trials, and the research indicates that it's safe. The COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect your child from getting very ill or hospitalized due to COVID-19. Over 80% of adults in Wake County have already received the COVID-19 vaccine without any serious side effects. Children are receiving the same vaccine, only in a smaller dose for smaller bodies.
Before being authorized for use by the FDA, each COVID-19 vaccine was tested through three phases of clinical trials. The data was carefully reviewed by the FDA and their advisory committee (VRBPAC), the CDC, and their advisory committee (ACIP). The FDA and CDC carefully reviewed the data from the clinical trials and agree that the benefits of the COVID vaccines greatly outweigh the risks.
After being authorized/approved for use by the FDA and recommended by CDC, COVID vaccines continue to be closely monitored for safety using established systems like VAERS, VSD and CISA, along with new safety monitoring systems like V-Safe. According to CDC, "these vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history."
Review the CDC recommendations yourself.
Will this impact my child's reproductive development or fertility?
No, the COVID-19 vaccines don't affect puberty or a child or teen's reproductive development in any way. Given that the vaccine's mRNA molecule mimics a natural human process, medical experts are confident that the vaccines are safe for growing bodies. Watch this video from local physician Dr. Fletcher on teen fertility and the vaccine.
What are the dangers of heart conditions or myocarditis after vaccination?
There have been reports of cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Both Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are mRNA vaccines. Most of these reported cases have happened in young men under 30 years old and after the second dose of the COVID vaccine.
An important thing to remember is that there are more cases of myocarditis in people who naturally get sick with COVID-19 than those who had it after vaccination. Your child's risk of myocarditis is higher with getting sick from COVID-19 naturally.
While these heart issues might sound very scary, myocarditis and pericarditis can be mild and treatable. In fact, of those who developed the heart conditions after getting vaccinated, at least 79% (or 4 in 5) have made a full recovery.
Myocarditis and pericarditis appear to be rare side effects after mRNA COVID vaccines. According to CDC, more than 214 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including millions of preteens & teens between 12 and 17 years old.
The CDC and its group of medical experts concluded that the benefits of COVID vaccination continue to outweigh the risks. Therefore, the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be recommended for anyone five years of age and older.
Symptoms of both these heart conditions may include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering, or pounding heart, or heart feels like it is beating in an unusual pattern
If your child starts to feel any of the symptoms listed above, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider right away. Make sure to let them know if your child had the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine within the last week.
How do we know the COVID-19 vaccines are effective for kids?
COVID-19 has become one of the top 10 causes of pediatric death, and tens of thousands of children and teens have been hospitalized with COVID-19. As of the first week of November, 8,300 children ages 5 to 11 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and at least 170 have died, out of more than 3.2 million hospitalizations and 740,000 deaths overall, according to the CDC. So while children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it is still possible.
The vaccine is safe and effective. Before being authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed their review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials of thousands of children. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was rigorously tested and reviewed, and more than 11 million adolescents ages 12-17 have already received the COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be very effective in reducing serious illness and hospitalization. More than 245 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have already been administered in the United States. Children are receiving the same vaccine, only in a smaller dose for smaller bodies.
Children across the country participated in the vaccine trials and the vaccine side effects were mild and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.
Similar to what was has been seen in Pfizer studies with adults, vaccination in children ages 5 to 11 was nearly 91 percent effective in preventing COVID-19. Of 2,268 children in Pfizer’s trial of 5- to 11-year-olds, twice as many were given the vaccine as received a placebo. Sixteen children who received the placebo got infected with the coronavirus, compared with three who received the vaccine.
Is it okay to get the COVID-19 vaccine for my child with autism, health condition like diabetes, obesity, diabetes or asthma?
Yes. It is safe for children with health conditions to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will protect our most vulnerable kids. Protecting kids with underlying conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and asthma, is extra important. These children might be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19. In addition, children who have congenital heart disease, genetic conditions or conditions affecting the nervous system or metabolism also might be at higher risk of serious illness with COVID-19.
How do we know there will not be long-term side effects from the vaccine?
Vaccine side effects primarily happen within six weeks of a dose. That's why the FDA studied people who receive the vaccine, including children, for at least two months after the last dose to watch for any side effects. Listen to this great response from a vaccine researcher at the Vaccine Education Center.
Please sign-up for V-Safe, a symptom checker that will send you occasional texts to ask you how your child is feeling and allow you to report any symptoms. It's critically important, and it only takes two minutes to answer the questions. It's the best way to help keep vaccines safe. Go to vsafe.cdc.gov to sign up.
What are some reasons your child should NOT get the vaccine?
Children who are allergic to vaccine ingredients should ask their doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and rare severe allergic reactions.
If kids are not dying from COVID-19, why should I risk getting them vaccinated?
The benefits of vaccination far outweigh the minimal risk of getting the vaccine. While it is true that most children have mild symptoms or no symptoms, some children do become severely ill with COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children can still be hospitalized, treated in the intensive care unit, or placed on a ventilator to help them breathe. Nearly 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in September and October as the Delta variant surged, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Research also suggests disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 in Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black children than in non-Hispanic white children.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, tens of thousands of children have been hospitalized with Covid, and 657 have died, according to data collected by the C.D.C.
Some children who are infected with the coronavirus may go on to develop long COVID, remaining ill for months after the initial infection is gone, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which has affected at least 5,200 children in the United States.
The two-dose COVID-19 shot is nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children.
We don't want children be the only group of people left vulnerable to COVID-19 without vaccination protection.
Will kids still get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine?
Maybe. Vaccines protect the vaccinated from serious illness and hospitalization. However, there is still a chance that your child will get a mild or asymptomatic case of COVID-19. Evidence shows that getting the COVID-19 vaccine also helps reduce the spreading of the illness. Read this article for more information.
Should I wait for the Moderna vaccine for kids since it seems to be more effective against COVID-19?
No. It's important to vaccinate your child as soon as possible. Vaccinations help prevent illness from occurring. By waiting, you leave your child open to getting infected with COVID-19 for a longer period. At this time, we don't know when a Moderna or J&J vaccine will be available for children ages 5 and up.
Prepare for the Shot
My child is scared of shots. How can I help keep them calm?
Try these simple tips to help your child get the COVID-19 vaccine:
- Be Honest And Calm – Kids are smart. Prepare them for the vaccine visit a few days before the appointment. Explain that they may feel a little pinch, and it will go away very fast. Use words like "pressure" or "poke" rather than "pain" or "shot." Remain upbeat and relaxed before, during, and especially after shots.
- Sweet Treat – Tasting something sweet can help reduce the pain response from a shot. For example, give our child a small piece of candy 2 minutes before the shot. Even a very small amount can help reduce pain during shots.
- Hug Them – Embracing your child will help them relax and move less. Keep them still by holding your child on your lap or have the child stand in front of you as you sit. Embrace your child during the process.
- Distract Your Child – Right before the shot, call your child's name, sing your child's favorite song, or act plain silly to pull your child's attention away from the shot giver. Then, keep the distraction going after the vaccine is given.
- High Five – Give your child and yourself a high-five! You just protected your child with the COVID-19 vaccine. Your community thanks you!
It's normal to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for your child. Hear from local medical experts and parents on why they recommend vaccinating children.
Listen to advice from doctors on the COVID-19 vaccines.
- Can the vaccine impact my child’s fertility?
- Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe to give your child with autism, diabetes or other health conditions?
- Should my child get the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?
- Can kids get long COVID?