Skip to main content

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ

Updated September 28, 2021

List of the six facts you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.

6 Facts You Need to Know

It is important to understand the facts about COVID-19 vaccine. Providers from Children's Mercy share 6 facts you need to know. 

Top questions from teens answered

Teens Top Questions about COVID-19 Vaccine Answered

The CDC recommends everyone 12 years and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19. Widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop the pandemic. But we understand some teens have questions about whether or not to get the vaccine. We collected questions from area teens and asked one of our Pediatric Infectious Diseases experts to provide answers.

It’s possible that the disease would be eradicated. The other possibility, which may be more likely, is that COVID would still be here, but it wouldn’t cause people to be so sick. So instead of causing people to be in the hospital, it would cause people to feel like they had a cold.

The side effects from the vaccine are your body’s way of telling you that the vaccine is doing it’s job. The vaccine gives you a small piece of the virus that can’t make your body sick. But your body doesn’t know that it can’t make you sick. So it learns to practice fighting it. In order to practice, it does all the same things that it would if you were really sick (e.g. you might get a fever, achy, have a headache). But it does this in a really safe way because the vaccine can’t give you COVID-19. Then, if you do get COVID-19, your body is ready to fight and it has already practiced. It is like going out and playing in the Superbowl without ever having trained. If you play in the Superbowl without ever having played football, you are going to get beat up and hurt. If you have been training all season and know how to play football, you are ready to go out there and beat the other team!

Most of the virus that is circulating in the U.S. right now is the Delta variant.

It takes about two weeks after you get the vaccine for you to be protected. For the vaccines that require 2 doses (Pfizer/Moderna), this means that it is two weeks after the second dose. Although there will be some effect two weeks after the first dose, but it won’t be as effective as two weeks after the second dose.

Vaccines are the best way to prevent disease. People are always studying ways to prevent viruses and infections, but so far, vaccines seem to be the best thing we have - for both COVID-19 and other diseases.

The vaccine has only been around for about a year. So far, we don’t know of any long-term side effects. For some vaccines, there are very rare side effects that have been reported, but these are far less common than the side effects of COVID-19. These side effects generally occur soon after getting the vaccine.

Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. More than 339 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from Dec. 14, 2020, through July 19, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 6,207 reports of death (0.0018%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires health care providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. (It is important to remember anyone can report to VAERS. If you get the COVID vaccine and then get hit by a bus the next day, you can report that to VAERS as a death after the COVID-19 vaccine. But that doesn’t mean they are related.)

A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.

Your body responds to the vaccine by preparing and training the parts of your immune system that will fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Some people have symptoms after the first dose and some after the second dose, while others have symptoms after both. The reason that some people have symptoms after the second dose is because your body is already trained and prepared to fight. So your body geared up your immune system with the first dose and made your immune system ready to fight. When you get the second dose, your body is there and totally prepared to fight. Picture an army ready to go into battle. But no one told the army that the enemy can’t really hurt them. Your body is ready for battle with COVID-19.

Some companies are working on vaccines for variants but we will only know whether these are needed with time.

Not right now, but vets, zookeepers, and other people who work with animals will keep watching this to see if this is needed in the future.

 

Frequently asked questions about children and the vaccine

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children 12 years and older. The safety and efficacy data for children younger than 12 years is expected soon.

Yes. Vaccinating your child as soon as they are eligible will help protect them and their contacts such as their parents, grandparents and other children who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.

You should always discuss specific vaccine recommendations with your doctor, but the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for all people who meet eligibility criteria. The only contraindication to the vaccine is previous severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) to a previous vaccine dose or to a vaccine component (e.g., PEG). The vaccine should also not be given for 90 days following treatment with a COVID-19 monoclonal antibody.

Fully vaccinated people (two weeks after last vaccine dose) can visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. For more vaccination guidance, check out the CDC website.

 

While we don’t know for sure when vaccines will be authorized and recommended for all age groups, there are ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials in all age groups and data is expected to be available soon.

Yes. When the vaccines were tested in children, the side effects were the same as those for adults. The most common side effect was pain at the injection site, and it was generally mild. Other common reactions were fatigue, headaches, muscle pain and chills. Fever was an uncommon side effect. These post-vaccination symptoms are a sign that the body is reacting properly to the vaccine. Essentially, it shows you that your immune system is revving up to protect you. We will continue to evaluate new information as the trials in children continue.

The information available about how well the current vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson protect against new variant COVID-19 strains continues to change as the vaccines are tested against these variant strains and as new variant strains continue to emerge. It appears that the vaccines all provide some protection against the current variant strains, but the protection varies based on the vaccine and the variant strain.

Children’s Mercy will continue to provide vaccines to children who are eligible following authorization from the FDA and recommendations to give the vaccines from the CDC.

As of April 13, 2021, Children’s Mercy will bill for the cost of administering the vaccine. There will be no out-of-pocket cost for any vaccine recipient.

What will happen for those with insurance?

Vaccine recipients with insurance will not have any out-of-pocket costs for vaccine administration. If you have health insurance, you must provide that information at the time of scheduling and/or registration and we will bill your insurance

What will happen for those without insurance?

If you do not have insurance, we will submit your vaccine administration cost to the Provider Federal Uninsured program requesting reimbursement on your behalf. You will not incur any out-of-pocket cost.

What will happen if I receive an Explanation of Benefit (EOB) from my insurance showing that I owe a balance from my child’s COVID vaccine?

Your child’s insurance will be billed for COVID vaccine charges. However, any patient responsibility left from your insurance will not be billed to you on a statement.

Who can I call for questions related to COVID vaccine changes?

Children's Mercy Customer Service: (816) 701-5100 or RevenueCycleFeedback@cmh.edu

Health Resources and Administration has provided answers to frequently asked questions about claims reimbursement for testing, treatment and vaccines.

Frequently asked questions about the vaccine

Anyone who is 12 years old or older can get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Anyone who is 18 years or old or older can get the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The FDA has said that people who have a history of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction) to the COVID-19 vaccine or its components should not get the vaccine for now. The FDA is planning to publish more guidance soon about what to do if you do have a history of anaphylaxis.

All states have developed plans. Missouri and Kansas plans can be found here:

Yes, the vaccines are very effective. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are ~95% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID infection and J&J is 72 % (US data) in preventing symptomatic COVID and 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and death. This is considered to be a high level of effectiveness, comparable to other extremely effective vaccines such as ones for tetanus and measles.

Yes. When the vaccines were tested, the most common side effect was pain at the injection site, and it was generally mild. Other common reactions were fatigue, headaches, muscle pain and chills. Fever was an uncommon side effect. These post-vaccination symptoms are a sign that the body is reacting properly to the vaccine. Essentially, it shows you that your immune system is revving up to protect you.

It is normal to have questions about any new treatment or vaccine. However, COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same cycle of clinical trials and independent reviews as every other vaccine or medication. They were able to go through the cycle and be produced more quickly because of help from the U.S. government, but quality was not compromised.

Additionally, the vaccine uses modified RNA, which has been around for more than 10 years and has already been used as a treatment for cancer. This is not a completely new type of technology, which is one of the reasons that pharmaceutical companies were able to develop the vaccines quickly.

Yes. The vaccine is not contraindicated for pregnant or breastfeeding women – meaning it has not been shown to be harmful to this group. Since the vaccine does not contain the live virus, it cannot cause COVID-19 infection. For this reason, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has determined that there is no safety risk to pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of being vaccinated vs. contracting COVID-19.

Yes. The vaccine is not contraindicated for this group – meaning it has not been shown to be harmful to people in this group. Since the vaccine does not contain the live virus, it cannot cause COVID-19 infection. For this reason, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has determined that there is no safety risk to immunocompromised people. If you or your child are immunocompromised or take immunosuppressants, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of being vaccinated vs. contracting COVID-19.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need to be taken in two doses. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given three weeks after the first dose. The second dose of the Moderna vaccine is given four weeks after the first dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose vaccine.

It’s important to take both doses of the vaccine from the same company – so, for example, if your first dose is the Pfizer vaccine, your second dose should also be from Pfizer.

Yes. If you have had a COVID infection, you may take the vaccine after the 10-day isolation period.

On Sept. 16, 2021, we announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees, effective Dec. 15, 2021.