COVID-19 Vaccines for Kids

The CDC recommends the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 and older. Additionally, people ages 5+ who are moderately or severely immunosuppressed should get a third primary shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine 28 days after their second shot.

Although children are at lower risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 compared to adults, they can still get very sick, develop long-term health complications, and spread the virus to others. Getting vaccinated can help minimize children’s risk.

Two of SolutionHealth’s pediatricians, Danielle Dunetz, DO, FAAP, of Southern New Hampshire Health, and Holly Mintz, MD, of Elliot Health System, recently answered several frequently asked questions that parents and caregivers have about vaccinating children in this age group. Click here to watch their Q&A.


How can my child get vaccinated?

Appointments for children ages 5 to 11 can be scheduled at a local pharmacy here: Find COVID-19 Vaccines.

Click here for more information on Southern New Hampshire Health/Foundation Medical Partners vaccine offerings.

Click here for more information on Elliot Health System vaccine offerings.

COVID-19 Booster Shots

Who can get a booster shot?

Individuals ages 12+ who originally received the Pfizer vaccine should receive a booster shot at least five months after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. Adults ages 18 and older may receive a Pfizer or Moderna booster. Children and teens between the ages of 12 and 17 can only get the Pfizer booster.

If you originally received the Moderna vaccine, you should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster at least five months after completing your primary COVID-19 vaccination series.

If you originally received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster at least two months after receiving your first Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

For a list of locations and to schedule your booster shot visit: Find COVID-19 Vaccines.


Which booster shot can I get?

The CDC’s recommendations allow for mix-and-match dosing of booster shots. However, at this time, the mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – are preferred. A Johnson & Johnson booster should only be considered in some situations.


Who can get a 3rd dose (non-booster)?

The CDC also recommends a 3rd primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and who have already received either the Pfizer (ages 5+) or Moderna (ages 18+) COVID-19 vaccines. The third primary dose should be given 28 days after the second shot. Individuals who receive a third primary dose should then wait six months after that dose to receive a booster vaccine if eligible.

There are no recommendations for an additional primary dose of Johnson & Johnson at this time, though all individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should get a booster.


How do I get the vaccine?

  • All qualifying New Hampshire residents can schedule a vaccination appointment by clicking this link: Find COVID-19 Vaccines.
  • Patients with an Elliot Health System primary care provider who received the Pfizer vaccine and want a Pfizer booster can call their doctor’s office for an appointment to receive the vaccine.
  • All other eligible Elliot Health System primary care patients should use the link above to schedule an appointment to get a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a local pharmacy.
  • Patients with a Southern New Hampshire Health/Foundation Medical Partners primary care provider should use the link above or call their provider’s office to schedule an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Vaccine

It is strongly recommended that you get vaccinated. The vaccine will help protect you from getting COVID-19. If you still get infected after you get vaccinated, the vaccine may prevent serious illness. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect people around you. 

There may be side effects, but they should go away within a few days. Possible side effects include a sore arm, headache, fever, or body aches. This does not mean you have COVID-19. Side effects are signs that the vaccine is working to build immunity. If they don’t go away in a week, or you have more serious symptoms, call your doctor. 

Because vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection (immune response), some people experience symptoms of a real infection without being infected. In clinical trials, the COVID-19 vaccines were found to cause side effects like fatigue, chills, fever, muscle and joint pain, and headache (in addition to injection site pain and swelling) in some people. These side effects are temporary and are a normal part of our bodies building immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use or in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. 

Yes. The CDC recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19, because you can catch it more than once. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection will last. 

No. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we don’t know how long this protection lasts. Vaccination is the best protection, and it is safe. People who get COVID-19 can have serious illnesses, and some have debilitating symptoms that persist for months.

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

In most cases, yes. The CDC recommends that people with a history of allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications – such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies – get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions can also get vaccinated. 

People who have had an allergic reaction to other types of vaccines should ask their primary care provider if they can get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

People who are allergic to any vaccine ingredient, including PEG or polysorbate, should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Ingredient lists are available for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

Yes. The CDC advises that people with autoimmune conditions may receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. However, please be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of mRNA vaccines for this population, though they were eligible for enrollment in clinical trials. 

Yes. Current data suggest that people with weakened immune systems due to illnesses or medication might be at increased risk for severe disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 and should be vaccinated.

However, people with weakened immune systems may have a reduced immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine and should continue practicing other safety precautions, like masking and social distancing.

Yes. The COVID-19 vaccines have been found to be safe for pregnant people. Additionally, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine both strongly recommend that all pregnant people be vaccinated.

According to SolutionHealth’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists, Gary Kaufman, MD, and Bethany Hart, DO, “Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of COVID-related complications for both mother and baby.  Vaccination may also help you pass anti-COVID-19 antibodies to your baby thru the umbilical cord and breastmilk.  If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you should strongly consider a COVID-19 vaccine.  There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta.  So far, more than 139,000 pregnant people have been vaccinated and there have been no increased risks of miscarriage, growth problems or birth defects.  In addition, there is no evidence that female or male fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.”

Yes. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the FDA for use in children age 5 years and older. The CDC recommends all children in this age group receive the vaccine.

Studies have shown that children in this age group experience side effects at rates similar to those seen in teens and adults. There were no significant adverse events or deaths in the trials testing the Pfizer vaccine in young children.

On August 23, 2021, the FDA granted the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine full approval for use in people 16 and older. It remains available under an emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals ages 12-15.

The Moderna and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccines continue to be available under EUA.

Other vaccines have been approved for use in other countries and there are dozens of other vaccines currently in various stages of development and testing.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines that are administered in two doses. The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine that is administered in one dose.

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in people 5 years of age and older. The Moderna and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for people 18 years of age and older.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been found to be more effective at preventing severe illness from COVID-19 than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For that reason, the CDC endorses a preference for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Vaccines work by tricking our bodies into thinking we have been infected by a virus so our infection-fighting blood cells will produce protective antibodies against the virus without us actually becoming infected.

The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. It uses a modified virus to deliver a gene that instructs our cells to make a protein that triggers the production of antibodies and an immune response. The virus used in the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine cannot cause illness in humans.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines. Instead of using a weakened or inactivated virus to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that prompts antibody production and an immune response. The first dose of the vaccine helps our immune system recognize the virus, and the second shot strengthens the immune response. mRNA vaccines do not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

  • As of July 27, 2021, the CDC recommends that everyone in areas of ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ transmission should wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. Check transmission levels in your area here:
  • Wearing a mask is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation moving into, within, and out of the U.S. and while inside U.S. transportation hubs like airports and train stations.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals arriving in the U.S. are required to get tested three days before traveling by air or show documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months.
  • Continue to watch out for COVID-19 symptoms and, if you have symptoms, get tested and stay isolated at home.
  • People who have a weakened immune system due to a medication or illness should continue to wear a mask, socially distance, and take all other precautions recommended for unvaccinated people until otherwise advised by their healthcare provider.

Though the COVID-19 vaccines were developed rapidly, all steps have been taken to ensure their safety and effectiveness. In the United States, the FDA and CDC continue to monitor vaccine safety to ensure any long-term side effects are identified and appropriate action is taken.

Over 346 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the United States as of August 2, 2021. The vaccines are safe and effective. They were evaluated in clinical trials and received emergency use authorization after meeting the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. The vaccines continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.

Serious safety problems are rare. A small number of people have had severe allergic reactions after vaccination. This is rare, treatable, and can occur after any vaccination. Thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) – blood clots with low platelets – after the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine has occurred in some women younger than 50 years old. TTS is rare, occurring in approximately seven per 1 million vaccinated women between 18 and 49 years old. Cases of myocarditis and pericarditis in adolescents and young adults have been reported, but these reports are rare.

Ultimately, the potential benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks.

Vaccine recipients have the opportunity to enroll in v-safe. This is a smartphone tool you can use to tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If you report serious side effects, someone from CDC will call to follow up. You will be provided with enrollment instructions when you receive your first shot. You can also find instructions here.

Individuals can also report any side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

Under typical circumstances, vaccines undergo many years of laboratory testing, clinical trials, and review before being approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, due to the urgency and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the currently available vaccines were developed in less than a year and received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA. EUA allows vaccines to bypass the multi-year process and be used during public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though these vaccines were developed and approved on an accelerated timeline, they were still rigorously tested for safety and efficacy. The FDA does not approve vaccines that are not proven safe and effective during clinical trials.

More information about how vaccines are developed and available by EUA can be found here, here, and here.

Your body’s normal, healthy response to the COVID-19 vaccine may involve enlargement of the lymph nodes, particularly in the underarm on the side of the injection. This may be picked up on your screening mammogram and additional testing may be required. To avoid unnecessary stress, Dr. Marina Feldman, a radiologist who specializes in breast imaging and Director of Breast Imaging at the Elliot Breast Health Center, suggests if you are due for a screening mammogram, you should schedule the mammogram prior to vaccination or six weeks after your vaccination is complete. Annual screening mammograms are your best defense against breast cancer and should not be skipped. However, if you need to reschedule your screening mammogram due to your vaccination timeline, call 603.608.3067 (Manchester & Londonderry) or 603.577.2665 (Nashua).

Yes. According to Dr. Marina Feldman of the Elliot Breast Health Center, you should get the vaccination in the arm opposite your surgical side. If both sides were involved, the injection can be administered in your buttocks or thigh.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. are effective against COVID-19, including serious outcomes of severe disease, hospitalization, and death. While vaccinated individuals can still become infected by any variant of the virus, available evidence suggests that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer the most protection against both infection and hospitalization caused by all strains of the virus. A third dose of an mRNA vaccine, or booster shot, increases effectiveness against severe disease and hospitalization even more.

In other words, the vaccines are effective against the most severe outcomes of the virus, so, while a vaccinated and boosted person may become infected with the virus, they will likely have a milder case and be less likely to transmit the virus to others.

The CDC recommends that all individuals ages 12+ receive a booster vaccine.

Individuals (ages 12+) who originally received the Pfizer vaccine should get a booster at least five months after completing their primary vaccine series. Children ages 12-17 may only get a Pfizer booster. Adults ages 18+ should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster.

Individuals (ages 18+) who originally received the Moderna vaccine should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster at least six months after completing their primary vaccine series.

Individuals (ages 18+) who initially received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine must wait at least two months before receiving a Pfizer or Moderna booster.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferred for all adults ages 18+. The Johnson & Johnson booster may be appropriate in some situations.

Here are some trusted sources for more information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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