How to talk to your child about the COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine information can feel like it’s coming from every direction. And while children and teens are not currently receiving the vaccine, they may still have questions and concerns about it.
“Children may be confused as to why adults can get the COVID-19 vaccine but they can’t,” says Dr. Tarra Combs, a pediatric neuropsychologist with Aurora Children’s Health. “It can be helpful to explain to kids that their bodies are still growing and developing, so it takes longer to make sure things are extra safe for them.”
She explains that open communication is key.
“Children are resilient. As parents, it’s our job to promote that resiliency by communicating openly with them on their level,” says Dr. Combs. “For that reason, the amount of detail you share with your child often depends on their age.”
Dr. Combs recommends taking cues from your child about how much detail they are looking for and to encourage them to ask questions. If you’re not sure of an answer, look it up together through a reliable site like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is a great opportunity to demonstrate that it’s okay to not have all the answers, especially right now when everything is so new and changing rapidly,” she said.
Your child may also have questions around the availability of the vaccine, or why Grandpa can get it and Mom can’t right now.
“Let your children know that even though we have a vaccine, it will take some time for everyone to get it,” says Dr. Combs. “Also, some people can’t get it. For example, some people’s bodies can’t handle a vaccine right now – like people who are very sick from something else. This is also a good opportunity to explain why we are continuing to social distance and wear masks to help keep everyone healthy.”
She says that many children worry about getting vaccines when they go to the doctor. Dr. Combs suggests explaining the importance of vaccines to your child by letting them know they help keep us from getting sick and from getting others sick.
“Even though currently, the COVID-19 vaccine is not one they will get, when we eventually know it is safe for children, it will be important for them to receive it if recommended by their doctor.”
Check out our COVID-19 Info Center to learn more about the virus.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.