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Your guide to COVID-19 vaccine information for parents, young adults

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This is a community-involved living FAQ guide for parents, guardians, young adults and kids who have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines. This living guide will be updated when information changes, or when we have a physician or expert address questions submitted by the community. Shared through the America Amplified network.

We have created a community-centered Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide for Oklahomans aged 12-24 who have questions about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

To ask a question, text "FAQ" to our KOSU Texting Club number 1-844-777-7719 or email Kateleigh Mills at kateleigh@kosu.org.

Whatever questions you have, we will ask healthcare professionals for you.

We will be adding questions as we get them answered, so please check back!

My kid wants to get a vaccine, but I’m nervous, what should I do?

"We always recommend making informed health decisions. This means talking to your child’s pediatrician or primary care doctor. They know your child’s medical history and are the trusted health professional you see."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

I’ve heard that the vaccine may cause my son to have long-term heart problems. Is that true? (Last updated 10/29/2021)

As of October 20, 2021, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has received 1,698 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis among people ages 30 and younger who received COVID-19 vaccines. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart. You can learn more about heart inflammation here.

Most of those cases were reported to VAERS after mRNA COVID-19 vaccination (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), particularly in male adolescents and young adults.

Through follow-up, including medical record reviews, the CDC and FDA were able to confirm 963 reports of myocarditis or pericarditis. As of now, the CDC is investigating reports of people developing heart inflammation to assess whether there is a relationship to COVID-19 vaccination.

The CDC says myocarditis and pericarditis after COVID-19 vaccination are extremely rare and they still recommend COVID-19 vaccination for everyone ages 12 and older given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications.

I’ve heard that more than 80 percent of Oklahoma school kids are going to get COVID-19 before Thanksgiving. If that happens, what’s the point in getting the vaccine?

"COVID vaccines are an effectively safer way to help build protection. If you contract COVID, you run the risk of becoming ill and requiring hospitalization. The vaccines have proven to diminish the severity of an infection. Current research suggests people get better protection from being vaccinated versus protection from actually having COVID.

If you contract COVID, it is unknown how you or someone around you will respond. You would be running the risk of having ongoing health problems for several weeks or longer."

Source: Eddie Withers, lead epidemiologist at OCCHD

Will an mRNA vaccine change my child’s DNA?

No, mRNA vaccines will not change your child's DNA. mRNA vaccines do not contain the live COVID virus. They used advanced technology to deliver special instructions to your cells, triggering your cells to produce antibodies responsible for fighting off COVID, should you become infected. Once they do their jobs, those proteins which deliver the special instructions dissolve naturally.

The material for eliciting the response never enters the portion of the cell where the DNA is housed.

Source: Eddie Withers, lead epidemiologist at OCCHD

What are the side effects for vaccines for kids?

Side effects of the vaccine for those aged 12 and older are the same as adults who’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Where you get the shot: pain, redness and/or swelling
  • Throughout the rest of your body: tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever and/or nausea

These side effects may affect your child's daily activities, but should subside within a few days. However, some people have no side effects after vaccination. You can consult with your child's healthcare provider on using a non-aspirin pain reliever or other steps at home to help with side effects. The CDC does not recommend taking pain relievers before vaccination in an attempt to prevent side effects.

I have friends who will not get the COVID-19 vaccine because of a genetic allergy to eggs. Are eggs used in the production of the vaccine?

"The COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized or approved by the FDA are not manufactured using egg products or egg culture. See COVID-19 vaccines for more information." -U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration's COVID-19 FAQ page.

I’ve heard that the vaccine uses aborted fetal cells. Is that true?


In March 2021, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine made headlines because abortion-derived cell lines were used in its development. Christian groups at the time advised against using the J&J vaccine if there were other vaccines available to take. While the vaccine used lab-replicated fetal cells (known as cell lines) during the production process, the vaccine itself does not have any fetal cells or aborted fetal DNA.

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines also used fetal cell lines in testing stages, but the vaccines do not include fetal cells.

Could my child have long term effects that doctors don’t know about yet?

"Long term side effects due to vaccines are rare. If these side effects do occur, they typically present in the first few months. The technologies used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines have been years in development to prepare for outbreaks of infectious viruses. The long term effects of being infected with COVID itself, known as “long-hauler syndrome,” is happening in adults and there is concern of the effects of this in children."

Source: Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

How do I really know the vaccine was tested properly? I’m just really not sure if I trust the science.

"COVID vaccines were developed using technology that has been around for decades. They are not experimental and went through all the required stages of clinical trials. Extensive testing and monitoring have shown that these vaccines are safe and effective.

Currently, even as vaccines are given out across the country, the vaccine is intensively monitored for indications there is an issue. Also, keep in mind that currently 180 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, essentially proving the safety of the vaccines."

Source: Eddie Withers, lead epidemiologist at OCCHD

If my child can still get COVID after getting vaccinated, why should they get the shot?

"No vaccine is 100% effective. What we do know is that those who are vaccinated are less likely to become severely ill or hospitalized with COVID."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

Does my kid have to stay home from school after receiving the vaccine?

"None of the current vaccines are live virus, and they won’t make you sick. Like other vaccines though, after you get the shot you can have pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. In addition, some people are tired, have headache, have muscle pain, chills, and fever. After you are fully vaccinated, when you are exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you don’t have to quarantine unless you have symptoms of infection."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

Will the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?

"Currently, no evidence shows that any of the COVID vaccines cause fertility problems."

Source: Dr. Jeffrey Stroup, Pharm.D., Professor of Internal Medicine and Provost and Vice President for Strategy for OSU Center for Health Sciences

My child isn't old enough to get the vaccine - when will they be eligible? (Last Updated 11/03/21)

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine now has an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA and CDC for children ages 5 through 11.

On November 2nd - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all children ages 5 through 11 - get a low-dose COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

The dose of the Pfizer vaccine for young children contains about one-third the amount of active ingredient used for those 12 and older.

Children would then receive a second dose 21 days or more after their first shot.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued the recommendation after a unanimous vote by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

The recommendation means about 28 million children in the 5 through 11 age group will be eligible for shots. In Oklahoma - that number is approximately 375,000 children who are now eligible.

OSDH Interim Commissioner Keith Reed said November 3rd that the state agency is prepared to start administration as vaccine arrives in the state.

The main clinical trial found it to be safe and 90.7% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 for those 5 through 11 years old.

Why is KOSU doing this kind of reporting? (Last updated: 10/29/21)

KOSU recently was among 14 public media stations across the country to receive Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) emergency grants to address COVID-19 misinformation in their community. The grants were awarded to public television and radio stations in areas with low vaccination and high infection rates, or in emerging hotspots for coronavirus infection.

"KOSU reporters continue to listen to the kinds of information the community needs. This project helps to continue to fill in the gaps and allows us to continue listening and learning," said Rachel Hubbard, KOSU Executive Director.

KOSU tracks COVID news daily here.

Updated: Oct. 29: The Oklahoma State Department of Health's weekly epidemiology and surveillance report finds 49.8% of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated, ranking it in the bottom fourth of all states.

The same report finds:

  • 30.4% of Oklahomans between the ages of 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated. 
  • 35.6% of Oklahomans between the ages 18 and 24 are fully vaccinated.

Note: The data above is provided from OSDH's weekly epidemiology and surveillance report that is released on Wednesdays.

What organizations or individuals helped with putting this guide together?

The community! If you have other questions you'd like us to look into, text "FAQ" to our KOSU Texting Club number 1-844-777-7719 or email KOSU's Special Projects Reporter Kateleigh Mills at kateleigh@kosu.org.

(Note: If you or your organization would like to partner with KOSU to further collect information for this guide, please email kateleigh@kosu.org.)

Copyright 2021 KOSU. To see more, visit KOSU.

Kateleigh Mills