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COVID-19 Vaccines for Adolescents: What Parents Need to Know

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded its Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include adolescents 12-15 years old. Here are answers to comment parent questions.


  • May 6-13, children had 24% of all new COVID-19 cases
  • Over two weeks, 4/29/21-5/13/21, there was a 3% increase in the cumulated number of child COVID-19 cases
  • Thousands of children in the U.S. have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and hundreds have died. This highly safe and effective vaccine brings life-saving protection to those who are vaccinated and also protects others.
  • While COVID-19 happens more frequently in adults, there’s growing concern about variants, which seem to be causing more infections in younger ages. 
  • Some kids who contract COVID-19 have symptoms similar to a cold, while others experience serious complications.
  • A potentially severe and dangerous complication can occur in children called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
  • Doctors still don’t know the long-term effects of COVID infection — whether it was a mild or serious case.
  • Serious illness from COVID-19 does not always happen among those who are high risk or who have pre-existing conditions. A vaccine can lower the chances of serious complications for all kids.
  • Kids, especially adolescents and teens, have more social contact and a greater risk of spreading the virus. 

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but severe complication from COVID-19, can lead to life-threatening problems with the heart and other organs in the body.


  • The Phase 3 clinical trial enrolled 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years old in the U.S.
  • In the trial, 18 cases of COVID-19 occurred in the placebo group, while none occurred in the group that received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine side effects were consistent with those seen in study participants aged 16 to 25 including pain or swelling/redness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever — all of which typically resolved within 24-48 hours. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, all reviewed the trial data and recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15.

 “It’s essential for children to be vaccinated against COVID-19... Our youngest generations have shouldered heavy burdens over the past year, and the vaccine is a hopeful sign that they will be able to begin to experience all the activities that are so important for their health and development.”

— American Academy of Pediatrics President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP


  • When searching for a vaccine site or making an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine for a child who is 12-17, make sure the location offers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 
  • All those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when receiving their vaccine.
  • Certain vaccinations are required for enrollment in Nevada public schools unless an exemption is granted for medical or religious reasons. You can find vaccine requirements on the school vaccine page at
  • To get your child fully prepared to return to in-person school, they should be caught up on all the vaccines that protect them from preventable diseases including, mumps, measles, HPV, whooping cough, and now COVID-19, as well.
  • Based on their analysis of ongoing, real-life vaccine data, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is no longer recommending a 14-day buffer between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines for children or adults. This means children can get caught up on their school-required vaccines and receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.
  • If you have questions about this vaccine for your child, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor.

“As a parent and doctor, the news is very exciting, this gives the U.S. another resource in fighting COVID-19. And it’s reassuring to know that children will have another level of protection during summer activities and the upcoming school year.”

— Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell, Saint Mary’s Urgent Care Medical Director and mother of two

If you're looking for a vaccine location, visit our vaccine finder page.