Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been green-lighted for those ages 12 to 15, many parents are wondering if it’s safe to vaccinate their children—and if so, how do you explain such a complicated topic to someone so young?
First and foremost, experts in pediatrics and infectious disease insist the science is clear: the benefits of receiving the vaccine far outweigh any risks. With more schools planning to return to in-person learning after the summer ends, the vaccine will play an essential role in decreasing the transmission of the virus. Though this is excellent news, you shouldn’t wait to vaccinate your child until the fall. Summer events where children interact with one another— like camps, birthday parties, playdates, and sports— are all potentially dangerous situations where transmission of the virus can occur.
Take the first in protecting your child by following the steps below. They will help you explain the vaccine in simple and reassuring terms.
Set an example.
If you are discussing the COVID-19 vaccine with your child, chances are you have already been vaccinated. This is a significant first step when researching how to explain the vaccine to children. By receiving the vaccine, you can discuss the process from a personal experience. In addition, a child is more likely to be receptive to the conversation after seeing that you are okay after being vaccinated.
If you haven’t been vaccinated for COVID-19, visit www.BaptistHealthCovidVaccine.com to find a Baptist Health vaccine clinic near you.
Children are incredibly perceptive and take their emotional cues from adults. If you are worried or anxious, try not to overshare your fears with your child. And more importantly, if you don’t know the answer to your child’s question, don’t guess. Use it as an opportunity to explore COVID-19 vaccine information together. A great place to start is our conversation with Dr. Amanda Novack.
Ask how they are feeling.
Invite your child to share what they have heard about COVID-19 vaccines and listen to their responses. Use this opportunity to clear up any misinformation they may have heard involving the vaccine. Be fully engaged in the conversation and take their fears very seriously. Reassure your child that they can always talk to you or another trusted adult about any concerns that they may have.
Answer their questions.
Below are a few age-appropriate responses to commonly asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
What is a vaccine?
A vaccine is a type of medicine that helps your immune system fight off germs like viruses and bacteria. Vaccines don’t make you feel better, but they are important because they keep you from getting sick in the first place.
How do vaccines work?
When a germ enters your body, it tries to make you sick. Specific cells in your body recognize the germ as an intruder that needs to be removed. Your body then creates armies of germ-fighters called antibodies that attach to the germ to fight it off. If the antibodies are strong enough, they kill the germ so that you stay healthy.
Vaccines work by making antibodies that fight off the germ. They use a tiny piece of the germ that can’t make you sick to teach your body how to identify the germ and learn how to fight it off if you ever contact the germ. Once you get the vaccine, your chances of getting the dangerous germ are much lower.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines are very safe! After getting a vaccine, you might have a higher temperature or body aches or a sore arm, but this doesn’t last very long. These symptoms are the body’s way of telling us that the vaccine is working— and that your body is building up the protection it needs to fight the disease.