On Friday, June 17, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) authorized both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children six months to four years old. We know parents have many questions about the vaccine. We’ve got answers. Here’s a roundup of some of the most common Q&A:

This information is accurate as of 6/23/2022; please visit our vaccination page for the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccination.

Where can I get a vaccine for my child?

We recommend that you first check with your child’s pediatrician to see if they are able to vaccinate. However, there are other options available if you’re not able to get into your pediatrician for an appointment. Many local pharmacies are offering appointments as well as our Public Health clinics.

Visit our vaccination page or vaccines.gov to find an appointment.

How many shots does my child need, and when?

The dosage and series authorized for children is informed by clinical trials on safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in these age groups. Here is some information regarding dosage:




Booster dose

Pfizer (6 months – 4 years)

3-shot series;

2 doses, 3 weeks apart (Followed by a 3rd dose at least 2 months later

One-tenth of the adult dose

Not at this time

Moderna (6 months – 5 years)

2-shot series;

2 doses, 4 weeks apart

One-quarter of the adult dose

Not at this time

Are the vaccines safe for children?

Data from extensive clinical trials show both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are safe and effective for children. The Pfizer study included more than 4,500 children and the Moderna study included more than 6,300 children. Here are some of the main takeaways from that research:

  • Both studies showed minimal side effects and indicated the chance of a severe reaction to the vaccine was very low.
  • Side effects to the COVID vaccines are typically mild and subside in one to two days. The most common side effects depended on age:
    • Children 6-23 months old: irritability and drowsiness was most common
    • Children 2-5 years old: soreness in the arm, low fever, and fatigue was most common
  • Both studies showed vaccinated children saw fewer infections. Vaccines reduced the rate of any infection by 37-80%.
  • No myocarditis cases were reported in either of the clinical trials.

Almost a billion doses of mRNA vaccines have been safely administered across the world, and we know a lot about the ingredients of these vaccines and how they work: mRNA molecules are broken down within 72 hours. They do not enter the cell nucleus or change DNA. Other vaccine ingredients, like fats, are broken down within 4 days. Ingredients do not linger within the body.

Before being authorized for children, scientists and medical experts completed a review of safety and effectiveness data from clinical trials involving thousands of children. Data will continue to be collected for two years after each vaccine is first administered. As with all vaccines, there will be ongoing monitoring among people who are vaccinated.

Do kids really need to be vaccinated? Is COVID really a threat for our youngest children?

Yes, COVID is a threat for young kids. COVID is among the leading causes of death for children in this age group, and more than 200 kids in this age group have died. During the Omicron surge, children under 5 years old were hospitalized at a rate 5x greater than when Delta was the dominant variant. Only about half of 20,000+ young children who have been hospitalized had an underlying medical condition – the other half were healthy children with no prior conditions.

The vaccine is the best way to protect children from becoming severely ill or having long-lasting health impacts due to COVID-19. While children and adolescents are typically at lower risk than adults of becoming severely ill or hospitalized from COVID-19, it is still possible. Future surges will continue to impact children, with unvaccinated children remaining at higher risk of severe outcomes.

Another important reason for children to get the COVID-19 vaccine is to protect others around them. Kids are very effective at transmitting COVID – they can get their grandparents, parents, and members in the community sick. The higher the vaccination rates, the lower the chances that the coronavirus will mutate into additional variants.

Do I need a prescription from my pediatrician to get my child vaccinated?

Not if you are getting them vaccinated through Public Health Madison & Dane County. Some pharmacies may have their own individual guidelines or requirements, so it’s a good idea to call ahead before heading in for your appointment.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Public Health Madison & Dane County and a link back to the original post.