FAQ for Families

COVID-19: Parent and Guardian Frequently Asked Questions

Did you know that more than 298,000 Ohio children have had COVID-19? Just like adults, children who are infected with COVID-19 can become seriously ill, require hospitalization and have short and long-term health complications. Children can also spread COVID-19 to friends and family.

Getting your child vaccinated is their best defense against the virus. Ohio Medicaid children 5 and older will receive a $100 gift card for getting their first COVID-19 vaccine from now until June 30.

Hear from Ohio Tween, Rylee, why she and her family chose to protect her by getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

SECTION 1: COVID-19 Vaccines Safety and Effectiveness

Q: Why is it important for my child to get vaccinated for COVID-19?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone ages 5 years and older get an age-appropriate COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. Children who get COVID-19 can get very sick, require hospitalization, and even die. Also, school-aged children who get infected can spread COVID-19 to people in their households and school settings. With many children back in school and participating in extracurricular activities, COVID-19 vaccination is critical to preventing infection and serious illness, as well as slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Q: Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for children age 5 to 17 years old?

A: Yes. The vaccines are safe for children in this age group. Clinical trials were conducted with thousands of children and no serious safety concerns were identified. The FDA gave the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine emergency authorization to use in children ages 5 to 15 years old and full approval to use in people ages 16 years and older.
Based on data from the clinical trial, children may have some side effects from COVID-19 vaccination, which are similar to what adults have experienced and the side effects that many children experience after routine vaccination. These side effects are normal signs that their body is building protection and may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some children will not have side effects. Serious side effects are rare but may occur.

Q: Are children at risk of getting sick from COVID-19?

A: Children are at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. In fact, COVID-19 ranks as one of the top 10 causes of death for children aged 5 to 11 years. Additionally, children can experience both short and long-term conditions after infection. Children who get COVID-19 can also develop serious complications like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C)—a condition where different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with healthy children.

Q: Are there concerns about myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination in children?

A: The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks. Rare cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart) in adolescents and young adults have been reported 12 and older. Myocarditis and pericarditis are more common if you get COVID-19, and the risks to the heart from COVID-19 can be more severe. No serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study of those ages 5-11. Visit coronavirus.ohio.gov/static/vaccine/youth-vaccines-faq.pdf to learn more.

Q: Is there a fertility or developmental concern with vaccinating children before they reach puberty?

A: No. There is no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, can cause female or male fertility problems. There is no evidence that vaccine ingredients or antibodies developed following COVID-19 vaccination will cause any problems with becoming pregnant. Similarly, there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine affects puberty. The COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for both men and women who want to have a baby in the future.

SECTION 2: Vaccine Dosage for Children and Teens

Q: Is the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 the same one that’s given to teens and adults?

A: Children ages 5 to 11 years receive an age-appropriate dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years has the same active ingredients as the vaccine given to adults and adolescents. However, the vaccine for children comes in a different vial with a different color cap. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that is given to adults and adolescents cannot be used for children ages 5 to 11 years. Just like adults and adolescents, children get the second dose three weeks after the first dose.

Q: How does COVID-19 vaccine dosage work for children? What should a parent do if a child turns 12 years of age in between the first and second doses?

A: Unlike many medications, vaccine dosages are based on age at the time of vaccination and not size or weight. If a child turns from 11 to 12 years of age in between their first and second dose, the second dose should be the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 12 years and older. However, if the child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 for their second dose, they do not need to repeat the dose.

Q: Should children get the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Children ages 12 to 17 years old should get a COVID-19 booster shot five months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series. Currently a booster shot is not recommended for children ages 5 to 11 years old. Please discuss with your primary care provider (PCP) if you have questions about your child getting the booster shot.

SECTION 3: Vaccine Availability for Children and Teens

Q: Are COVID-19 vaccines for children free?

A: Yes, COVID-19 vaccines are available for everyone at no cost, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years. COVID-19 vaccines are available to individuals 5 years and older living in the United States, regardless of insurance or immigration status.

Q: Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine for my child?

A: Parents and caregivers can use vaccines.gov to find doctor’s offices, local pharmacies, healthcare clinics, and local health departments where the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 and older years is available.  This free resource provides accurate and up-to-date information about vaccination services in your area. You can also text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you in the U.S.  Many school systems are hosting school-based vaccination clinics—check with your child’s school to see if a clinic is planned or visit our Community Events Page.

Q: Does a parent or guardian have to give consent before a child can receive a COVID-19 vaccine?

A: Yes. Children under age 18 who are not emancipated must have parental or legal guardian consent for any vaccine. A parent or legal guardian generally should accompany the minor to receive the vaccine, unless the administration of the vaccine occurs in a physician’s office, school-based or school-associated clinic setting or similar setting.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/children-teens.html.

For more information, visit CDC.gov

Click on the logo of your Medicaid plan below to find more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, transportation and more. Or call member services at your health plan. You can find the number on the back of your healthcare member ID card.