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Should a child get a COVID-19 vaccine if they are currently sick?

Our Verify experts explained whether or not to get the Pfizer jab while a child is currently not feeling well depends on the level of severity of the illness.

WASHINGTON —

THE QUESTION:

Should a child get a COVID-19 vaccine if he or she is currently sick?

THE SOURCES:

  • Dr. Andrea Berry, infectious disease pediatrician at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital and associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
  • Dr. Kawsar Talaat, infectious disease physician at Johns Hopkins Medicine and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Dr. Donald Alcendor, associate professor at Meharry Medical College and associate adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

THE ANSWER:

   

This needs context.

Our experts say, whether or not you need to reschedule your child's COVID-19 vaccine appointment, depends on how sick they are. They should not get the vaccine if they have something more severe like a fever or the flu, and they should absolutely hold off if they have COVID-19. For minor illnesses, like a minor headache or a runny nose, our experts said they can proceed with vaccination. 

WHAT WE FOUND:

Our Verify experts spoke with three medical experts to find out.

Both Berry and Talaat said they’ve already gotten the vaccine for their children, who are both 10 years old.

They all agree– if it's COVID-19, push off the appointment and isolate at home. Do not expose others who are at the vaccine clinic.

"We know that kids sometimes have these inflammatory responses to COVID infection, you don't want to complicate the picture by giving them a vaccine, so wait until things have settled down and give them the vaccine a few weeks later," Dr. Talaat said.

RELATED: VERIFY: Should I get the COVID vaccine if I'm sick?

If it’s something severe, like the flu or a fever, again, our experts agree, push it off. 

But if it’s something milder, you can go ahead and get the vaccine.

"If you had a stomach ache from eating too much or something, again, that shouldn't stop you from getting the vaccine; if you had the sniffles, that should not stop you from getting a vaccine," Dr. Alcendor said. "And so what I'm saying is that the severity of illness should be a gauge for you getting the vaccine or not."

Of course, he said, talk to your kid’s pediatrician if you’re concerned.

"So if there's a question, I would say just hold off," Dr. Berry said. "I would say that we're really excited to be able to finally have a vaccine for this age group, and so we should basically walk not run to get vaccinated.”

RELATED: Yes, there are treatments for children with COVID-19

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