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Why your child should get the COVID-19 vaccine even if they already had it

Why kids should get vaccinated even if they already had COVID-19

With the latest surge in COVID-19 infections, we’ve seen many more pediatric cases. With that comes more questions and concerns from parents, including about vaccinating their kids against this disease. We love when parents ask questions because it means they’re being thoughtful about their child’s health. To help answer those questions, my colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to understand the information and studies that have been published. We answered many of the common vaccine-related questions parents have in earlier posts. You can read more here

One question that is coming up a lot lately is should I get my kids vaccinated if they have already had COVID-19? 

The short answer is yes. 

We now know re-infection after having COVID-19 is possible. Natural immunity varies greatly from person to person and is relatively short lived. We don't have a reliable way to determine how much protection or how long antibodies from infection will protect a person. In short, natural immunity is unpredictable and unreliable. However, we do know the vaccine is predictable and reliable. It’s safe and effective. It provides stronger and more consistent protection from future COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, long-term issues and death. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is the greatest hope we have for our community to overcome the pandemic and return to normal activities. While children don't typically get as sick or have as serious of symptoms compared to adults, the omicron variant is more easily spread by children to adults. By having our children vaccinated, we prevent the virus from further infecting our community.

Here are a few additional common questions we’ve been seeing a lot. 

My child had COVID-19, so when can they get vaccinated? 

If your child had COVID-19, they can get vaccinated when they are done isolating, their symptoms have improved and they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours.

Does my child need the second shot if they tested positive in-between doses? 

Yes. Your child should receive the second dose after they are done isolating and as long as it’s been three weeks in-between doses. If your child is still isolating when their next dose is scheduled, it’s okay to reschedule for later, but make sure you complete the second dose.

Does my child (12 and older) need the booster if they got COVID-19 after getting two doses of the vaccine? 

Yes. They should get a booster dose at least five months since they got their second dose and, as mentioned earlier, they are no longer in isolation and their symptoms are improving.

What if my child was hospitalized for COVID-19? 

Talk to your pediatrician or pediatric specialist who will know your child’s specific health needs and can provide the best medical advice for your family. 

COVID-19 doesn’t pose a risk to kids, so why do they need the vaccine?

The role of kids in the pandemic is complex. But kids do get infected with COVID-19. In fact, more than 10 million children have tested positive in the United States since the start of the pandemic. 

While kids do typically experience less severe symptoms than adults, that isn’t always the case. Some kids, including some treated right here at Children’s Wisconsin, have developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). While rare, it is a serious inflammatory condition that can be caused by COVID-19 infection. Across the country, thousands have been hospitalized and hundreds of kids have died. 

But I’ve heard the vaccine doesn’t work well for kids?

The clinical trial for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed it is even more effective in adolescents than adults. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited 100 percent effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 in kids age 12-15, and greater than 90 percent effective in kids 5-11.

Like adults, there are some things we don’t yet know about the vaccine. For example, we’re still learning how effective is it at preventing transmission between people and how long immunity will last. The research shows the vaccine is very effective at preventing serious infection and hospitalizations. 

We also hear a lot of concerns from parents about the possibility of their kids developing myocarditis, inflammation of the heart, after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This is an extremely rare side-effect of the vaccine. And, to be clear, the risk of developing myocarditis is far great after a COVID-19 infection. 

Talk to your pediatrician

We know there is so much information coming out about COVID-19 daily and it can be hard to understand it all. We also know parents want to make the best decision for their kids. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please talk to your child’s pediatrician. They know their medical history better than anyone and can provide the best medical advice.

Children’s Wisconsin offers the COVID-19 vaccine at all of our primary care offices, and you can make your appointment easily through MyChart or by calling or texting your primary care office.