Missouri Adolescents Line Up for Shot at More Normal Summer Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

    Pediatrician explains what to expect after adolescents receive the COVID-19 vaccine
    By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology

    Across the country, middle school and high school students are now lining up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As the school year winds down, though, many parents are wondering, “Will my kid need to miss class after receiving the shot?”

    Alexandra James, MD, a pediatrician at MU Health Care, said any side effects for 12- to 15-year-olds should be similar to those in adults — mild.

    “The majority of the side effects are going to be headache, fatigue and then also muscle pain, particularly at the site where the shot is given,” James said. “There are some reports of things like fever, some nausea, but all of these things can be supported at home.”

    Rest, fluids and over-the-counter pain relievers after vaccination should help your child feel better quickly. James said kids only need to stay home if they have a fever or significant symptoms.

    “After vaccination, typically side effects last for about 48 hours, so that’s a good timeframe to think, ‘This is likely from the vaccination and not necessarily an infection of a different kind,’ ” James said.

    It’s important to note that respiratory symptoms, like a cough or sore throat, are not side effects of the vaccine, and they could be signs of COVID-19 or other infection.

    Like adults, 12- to 15-year-olds need two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. That’s why doctors say the best time to start the vaccination process is now. The benefits far outweigh any potential side effects.

    “Everybody is really excited and hopeful to get back into school in the fall,” James said. “One of the most feasible ways to do that is to have every child who’s in a seat protected, and the best protection that we have right now is to get them vaccinated.”

    To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents, visit muhealth.org.