Vaccinating Youth

What we know: COVID-19 vaccines are authorized for kids 6 months and older. What it means: It's ready. COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective for young kids.

Page last updated: March 19, 2024

CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older should get an updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. 

People who are up to date have lower risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 than people who are unvaccinated or who have not completed the doses recommended for them by CDC.

Vaccine Safety and Efficacy


Getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19 can:

  • Help lower the risk of them getting infected with COVID-19
  • Reduce their chance of getting seriously ill if they do become infected with COVID-19
  • Reduce their chance of needing hospitalization and lower their risk of dying from COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Guardians

Why should I be concerned about my child getting 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 currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations in the United States.

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. Half of reported pediatric COVID-19 deaths in the United States were in children with no underlying health conditions.

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.

How do we know that the vaccines are safe and effective for children?

To make sure that COVID-19 vaccines are safe, CDC expanded and strengthened the country’s ability to monitor vaccine safety. As a result, vaccine safety experts can monitor and detect issues that may not have been seen during the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.

Is the vaccine required for K-12 school entry?

The Washington State Board of Health, not the Department of Health, has the authority to create immunization requirements for children in K-12 schools RCW 28A.210.140. There is no school or childcare requirement for COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

Do I have to pay for the vaccine?

No. All children 18 years of age and under have access to COVID-19 vaccines via the Childhood Vaccine Program at no cost to the patient.

If you have public or private health insurance, your vaccine provider may bill them to get reimbursed for the vaccine administration fee. 

What are common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in children?

The health risks if children are infected with COVID-19 are much higher than the risk of vaccine side effects.

Like other vaccines, the most common side effects are a sore arm, tiredness, headache, and muscle pain. These symptoms are usually mild.

Side effects were generally mild to moderate in severity and occurred within two days after vaccination, and most went away within one to two days.

What ingredients are in the mRNA vaccines?

The ingredients in the mRNA vaccines are pretty typical. The vaccine contains the active ingredient of mRNA along with other ingredients like fats, salts, and sugars that protect the active ingredient, help it work better in the body, and protect the vaccine during storage and transport.

The mRNA vaccines do not contain human cells (including fetal cells), the COVID-19 virus, latex, preservatives, or any animal by-products including pork products or gelatin. The vaccines are not grown in eggs and do not contain any egg products.

See this Q&A webpage from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for more information about ingredients.

Which vaccine brand can my child get?

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.  Children 6 months-4 years must receive the same vaccine manufacturer for all doses. Children aged 5 years and older may receive any vaccine manufacturer or brand currently available, regardless of previous doses received.

Will my child need an updated dose after their original series?

CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get at least one dose of updated 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccine. The updated vaccine should be given at least two months after last dose if previously vaccinated. Children 6 months-4 years may need multiple doses depending on previous number of doses received.

How many doses does my child need?
  • Children ages 6 months- 4 years get a 3 dose Pfizer series or a 2 dose Moderna series
  • Children ages 5 years and older get a single dose of a Pfizer or a Moderna vaccine

Children 6 months+ who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get a 3-dose series and may get additional doses at least 2 months after their last dose. Please review the CDC guidelines for immunocompromised people.

Who should I talk to if I have questions about the vaccine?

Talk with your child's pediatrician or other trusted medical provider, talk with a community health worker, or read information at

Where can I take my child to get vaccinated?

Washington state provides all recommended vaccines at no cost for children through age 18. Ask your child’s pediatrician or regular clinic if they carry the COVID-19 vaccine.

Families who do not have a health care provider already can call the Help Me Grow WA Hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or go to to find a health care provider, clinic, or other health resources. This service is free and language assistance is available.

You can also visit the Vaccine Locator and use the filter to see a list of places near you that have the pediatric vaccine. You can also use the provider map to identify providers who received publicly-supplied vaccines through the Childhood Vaccine Program and Adult Vaccine Program. Contact the provider in advance regarding availability of supply and for more information regarding the policies associated with the practice.

Can my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine when they get other vaccines like for flu?

Yes. Your child can get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time they get other vaccines.

You do not need to schedule your child's required school vaccinations or other recommended vaccines separately from COVID-19 vaccination. A COVID-19 vaccine appointment is another opportunity to get your child caught up on all of their recommended vaccines.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required for my child to attend child care or day camps?

The Washington State Board of Health determines which vaccines are required for schools and child care. There is no school or child care requirement for COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

For day camps, check with the organization running the camp to find out what their requirements are.