The day Philadelphia parents have been waiting for is finally here! Everyone 6 months and older is now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. All Philadelphians should get their COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses–they protect against severe COVID-19 and save lives. Getting your whole family vaccinated is the best way to protect your loved ones and your community.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen COVID-19 overwhelmingly affect older Philadelphians. But it also can affect young children and the vaccines can help protect them.

The U.S. CDC reports that more than 1,250 children under the age of 18 have died of COVID-19. More children were hospitalized due to COVID-19 during this winter’s Omicron wave than ever before. And for children under four, most of those who were hospitalized didn’t have any underlying conditions.

The COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the U.S. FDA and recommended by the U.S. CDC help young children to develop immunity to COVID-19 and prevent symptomatic infection without worrisome side effects.

What vaccine is best for my child?

Both Pfizer and Moderna now have vaccines for young children, and you can’t go wrong with either one. The Health Department is not making a recommendation for one brand over the other. We encourage you get your young child vaccinated as soon as possible!

The Pfizer vaccine:

  • A three-dose series, meaning your child will need to get three shots to be considered up-to-date.
  • They get the second dose three weeks after the first.
  • They get the third dose two months after the second.
  • It’s possible that children who get the Pfizer vaccine will need a booster dose in the future.
  • The Pfizer vaccine is a much lower dose, and children have reported fewer side effects.

The Moderna vaccine:

  • A two-dose series, meaning your child will need to get two shots to be considered up-to-date.
  • They get the second dose four weeks after the first.
  • It’s possible that children who get the Moderna vaccine will need a booster dose in the future.
  • Side effects were generally mild after receiving the Moderna vaccine.

For both vaccines, children will have the highest level of protection two weeks after the last required dose.

Both vaccines have been found effective at preventing even mild COVID-19, and although hospitalizations and death are extremely rare in young children, so could not be looked at in these studies, evidence from studies in older children and adults strongly suggests that the vaccines will prevent these more severe outcomes.

The decision parents need to make is: do you want protection against COVID-19 sooner or are you more worried about the potential of mild side effects? If you want it sooner, get the Moderna vaccine.

Where can I get a COVID-19 vaccine for my child?

Finding a COVID-19 vaccine for your child may be more difficult than when you got yours. It takes a special set of skills to be able to administer vaccine to very young children. That means that it’s not available in as many places as before.

The best place to get your child their COVID-19 vaccine is at their regular pediatrician’s office. Not all pediatricians are carrying the vaccine, though. That means you should call ahead to see if they will be offering it. There may also be delays in receiving the vaccine, so call ahead to make sure they have it. If your doctor’s office does not offer the vaccine and your child is 3 or older, they can get vaccinated at participating pharmacies. There are also vaccine providers in the city offering vaccine to children whose doctors are not offering the shots.