Below are resources and information for providers who are interested in vaccinating people under 18 years old.
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Youth: Understanding Consent | Additional languages
- COVID-19 Vaccines for Youth: Understanding Consent for Community based Organizations Serving Youth (PDF) | Additional languages
- What Parents/Guardians Should Know about Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine (PDF) | Additional languages
- Myocarditis after COVID-19 vaccination: what parents and young adults should know (PDF) | Additional languages
- Pfizer age expansion letter template for organizations (Word)
- Printable “I got vaccinated” recognition certificate for kids (PDF)
- Vaccine resources in 36+ languages
- Vaccinating youth (available in more than 45 languages)
- COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11 years old (CDC)
- COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens (CDC)
- Preteens & teens | Preadolescentes y adolescentes (Vaccinate Your Family)
- The science behind COVID-19 vaccines: parent FAQs (American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children)
- 9 Things to Make Shots Less Stressful for You and Your Baby (CDC) | Spanish
- Before, During, and After Your Child's Shots (CDC) | Spanish
- How to Make Shots Hurt Less for Kids (health.com)
- Helping a Child Who Is Afraid of Shots (webmd.com)
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Pediatric Vaccine Toolkit for Providers (PDF)
- COVID-19 Vaccines: Pediatric Vaccine Toolkit for Schools (PDF)
- Vaccinate WA partner communications toolkit
- Pediatric healthcare professionals COVID-19 vaccination toolkit (CDC)
- Considerations for vaccinating minors
- ID Snapshot: How to reduce pain during vaccination (American Academy of Pediatrics)
- COVID-19 vaccines and reproductive health: talking points for medical providers (PDF)
- Provider discussion guide: building confidence in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (PDF)
- Sample consent for minor vaccination (PDF)
- COVID-19 vaccination guidance for children and youth in care (PDF) (Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families)
- Myocarditis and mRNA vaccines (PDF)
- November 5, 2021 – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), Interim Recommendation for Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in Children Aged 5-11 Years
- July 6, 2021 - MMWR, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines and myocarditis
- May 21, 2021 – MMWR, Interim Recommendation for Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine in Adolescents Aged 12-15 Years
- Provider discussion guide: building parental/guardian confidence in COVID- 19 vaccine (PDF)
- Pharmacies Urged to Offer COVID-19 Vaccine to Everyone Eligible (PDF)
- November 12, 2021 – Provider Forum: Help Unhoused Youth Get Vaccinated (YouTube)
- November 4, 2021 – Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccines: CDC's Recommendations for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Primary Series in Children 5-11 Years Old (Clinical Outreach and Communication Activity, COCA, call)
- June 10, 2021 – Vaccinating Adolescents webinar
- May 20, 2021 – Considerations for Vaccinating Minors
- May 14, 2021 – What Clinicians Need to Know about Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccination of Adolescents (COCA)
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why should minors get vaccinated against COVID-19?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 15 million children in the United States have gotten COVID-19. New COVID-19 variants are more dangerous and infectious to children than the original strains and led to peak COVID-19 hospitalizations among youth.
While COVID-19 is often milder in children than adults, children can still get very sick and spread it to friends and family who are immunocompromised or vulnerable in other ways.
Children who are infected with COVID-19 can develop “long COVID-19” or persistent symptoms that often include brain fog, fatigue, headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath. Vaccination is the best way to keep kids healthy and safe.
Children who get infected with COVID-19 may be at greater risk for Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. While it is still unknown what causes MIS-C, many children with MIS-C had COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.
- What can I do as a provider to support COVID-19 vaccinations for youth?
COVID-19 vaccine providers can help youth get their COVID-19 vaccine by:
- Listening to your patient's concerns and answering their questions with empathy. You can use the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine discussion guide (PDF) and the provider discussion guide: building parental/guardian confidence in COVID- 19 vaccine (PDF) for tips.
- Clearly stating your available vaccine types during the scheduling process, on the registration form, and at the clinic site. The current vaccines available for youth are:
- Three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech - 6 months-4 years; the third dose is bivalent
- Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech - 5 years and older; an updated bivalent booster dose for those 5 years and older
- Two doses of Moderna - 6 months and older; an updated bivalent booster for those 6 months and older
- Two doses of Novavax - 12 years and older
- Making your consent process clear during the scheduling process. Provide any necessary forms and let youth know what they need to bring to confirm consent. You should include if your organization:
- Requires an authorized adult to provide consent in person for the vaccine
- Applies the Mature Minor Doctrine
- Accepts consent from school nurses and school counselors for minors who are unhoused through the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
- Offering incentives to compensate youth for their time.
- Asking youth to outreach to other youth. They'll be more likely to trust and listen to their peers. You can also get their input on how your clinic could better serve youth. If youth have a good experience with a provider, they are more likely to come back and more likely to tell their friends about it.
- Which vaccine can I administer to someone under 18 years of age?
At this time, the Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) vaccine and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine brands are authorized for children ages 6 months and older. The Novavax vaccine is available for ages 12+ under an EUA.
- Do youth need a booster dose?
Everyone 6 months and older who have completed a 2-dose or 3-dose monovalent primary series should receive an updated bivalent booster. Children 6 months-4 years old should receive an updated bivalent dose that is the same brand as their primary series. Children 5 years old who completed the Pfizer primary series should only receive an updated bivalent Pfizer booster. Children 5 years old who received Moderna may receive an updated Moderna or Pfizer bivalent booster. People 6 years and older can receive an updated Pfizer or Moderna booster dose, regardless of which brand they received for their primary series or previous booster dose.
- What should I do if I accidentally give a child between ages 5 and 11 the adult dose of Pfizer vaccine?
If you give a child between 5 and 11 years old an adult dose (30 mcg) of Pfizer vaccine for their first dose, you should give them the pediatric dose (10 mcg) for their second dose 21 days later. They are considered fully vaccinated.
If you give a child between 5 and 11 years old an adult dose (30 mcg) of Pfizer vaccine for their second dose, they are considered fully vaccinated.
See the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's clinical considerations for more information.
- What should I do if I accidentally give a minor the Janssen vaccine?
If you inadvertently vaccinate someone age 17 years or younger with the Janssen vaccine, you should report it as an administration error to the Vaccine Administration Error Reporting System (VAERS).
Do not administer additional doses of any vaccine presentation. The minor is considered fully immunized.
Check the CDC's vaccine administration error guidance document for more information and next steps.
- What should I do if I accidentally mix and match the series for children ages 6 months-4 years?
Children ages 6 months-4 years who receive different mRNA products for the first 2 doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series should receive a third dose of either mRNA vaccine 8 weeks after the second dose to complete the 3-dose primary series.
- What should I do if I accidentally administer an incorrect formulation for children?
- If the incorrect formulation is administered, resulting in a higher than authorized dose, do NOT repeat dose. A subsequent dose may still be administered at the recommended interval.
- If the incorrect formulation is administered, resulting in a lower than authorized dose, repeat dose immediately (no minimum interval) with the age-appropriate formulation. If there are concerns of the patient being at risk of myocarditis, you can delay the repeated dose for 8 weeks after the invalid dose.
- Do I need to get consent from an authorized adult to vaccinate people under age 18?
Yes. People under age 18 may need consent from an authorized adult to get the vaccine, unless they are legally emancipated. You can treat consent for COVID-19 vaccination the same as you would for other recommended vaccinations for adolescents, such as Tdap or the meningococcal vaccine.
If you have questions about what you can accept as consent, please consult your legal counsel. You can use this sample consent for minor vaccination as a starting point.
- Who can give consent for a minor?
The following adults are authorized to consent for a minor:
- The parents of the minor
- An appointed guardian or authorized legal custodian
- A person authorized by the court to consent to medical care for a child in out-of-home placement (see chapter 13.32A or 13.34 of the Revised Code of Washington)
- An individual to whom the minor's parent has given a signed authorization to make health care decisions for the minor patient
- A competent adult relative who is responsible for the health care of the minor patient, or a competent adult who has signed and dated a declaration (see RCW 9A.72.085) stating this
- A school nurse, school counselor, or homeless student liaison for a homeless youth or young adult who is not under the supervision or control of a parent, custodian, or legal guardian, and is not in the care and custody of the Department of Children, Youth and Families
- What can I accept for consent?
Your organization must determine what it accepts as consent. For instance, is verbal consent enough or will you require written consent? Check whether your organization already has policies in place for minor consent. If they do, follow the guidelines. If there are not existing guidelines in place, discuss with your legal counsel to draft guidelines. DOH cannot offer legal advice in this matter. For written consent, you can refer to this sample consent for minor vaccination as a starting point.
- Who doesn't need consent from an authorized adult?
Mature minors, emancipated minors, and married minors are exempted from this rule and do not need parent or guardian consent. If a minor is exempt, be sure to document the reason for the exemption for each dose.
- What is the Mature Minor Doctrine?
The Mature Minor Doctrine was established by Smith v. Seibly in the Washington Supreme Court in 1967. This doctrine allows some providers to determine whether a minor has the capacity to understand the proposed health care service or treatment and is sufficiently mature to make their own health care decisions.
Health care providers are responsible for determining whether the Mature Minor Doctrine applies in each situation. Criteria that may be used in this determination include age, intelligence, maturity, training, experience, economic independence, general conduct as an adult, and freedom from the control of parents/guardians.
Only some providers may be able to make a Mature Minor determination. Discuss with your legal counsel to determine whether you are one of these providers.
Examples of applying the Mature Minor Doctrine:
- Public Health - Seattle & King County
- Spokane Regional Health District
- Providing Health Care to Minors Under Washington State Law
Note: These are only examples of what other organizations have done. This is not a direction from DOH that you must follow any of these specifically.
- Who is an emancipated minor?
An emancipated minor is someone who is 16 or 17 years old who has been legally declared an adult by the court system. An emancipated minor can give informed consent for all health care services, including immunization, without the need for parent or guardian approval.
Emancipated minors can show you their status with one of the following:
- Certified Decree of Emancipation
- Washington State driver license that says they are emancipated
- Washington State ID card that says they are emancipated
Your organization should have a policy on what to do regarding proof of emancipation.
- Do married minors need consent from an authorized adult?
A minor who is married to an adult or to an emancipated minor is considered an adult and can give informed consent for all health care services, including immunization, without the need for parent or guardian approval.
- Can patients receive both COVID-19 and other routine vaccines at the same time on the same day?
Yes. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) changed their recommendation on May 12, 2021. You can now administer COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines to patients without regard to timing of most other vaccines. Please see the following link for specifics: