We all want to protect our children in any way we can. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a choice that is yours to make, for you and your family. We understand you may have questions about vaccine options, and we’re here to help you with the information you need to make that important decision so you can protect your children.

Questions? Call us.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital
501-364-1100

Arkansas Children’s Northwest
479-725-6800

What vaccines are currently available in the United States? Are they effective?

Vaccine

How many doses?

Effectiveness in real world situations?

Comirnaty (Pfizer (mRNA)) 2 doses, given 3 weeks apart >85% effective in preventing symptomatic (showing symptoms) COVID-19

>96% effective in preventing hospitalization from COVID-19

>65% effective in preventing asymptomatic infection (showing no symptoms) COVID-19
Moderna (mRNA) 2 doses, given 4 weeks apart >85% effective in preventing symptomatic (showing symptoms) COVID-19

>96% effective in preventing hospitalization from COVID-19

>65% effective in preventing asymptomatic infection (showing no symptoms) COVID-19
Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (viral vector) 1 dose 77% effective in preventing symptomatic (showing symptoms) COVID-19

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for use in people over 18 years of age in the United States. The Comirnaty (Pfizer (mRNA)) vaccine is also authorized for use in children 12 years of age and older. These vaccines do not alter your DNA.
 
Which vaccine is being administered at Arkansas Children’s?

Arkansas Children’s is pleased to offer the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19) vaccine to our qualifying individuals. General information about this vaccine can be found on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

How many shots of COVID-19 vaccine will I need?

The Pfizer (Comirnaty) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines need two shots to be effective. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one shot. If your first shot was from Pfizer, your second shot must also be from Pfizer. The same is true if you received the Moderna vaccine as your first shot — your second shot must be from Moderna. Keep your vaccine card or take a photo of it so you remember which one you received.

Completing your vaccine series is critical. Data from the United Kingdom show that the Comirnaty (Pfizer mRNA) vaccine is only 33% effective after one dose, but 88% effective after two doses.

How many days apart do the two vaccine shots need to be?

The number of days between doses depends on which initial vaccine you got. You need to get your second dose within 3-4 weeks.

When you get vaccinated, you will be given a card that tells you which vaccine you got and when to return for the second shot. Be sure to keep this card and take a photo of the card for your records.

What percentage of the population needs to get vaccinated to have herd immunity to COVID-19?

Experts do not know what percentage of people need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity depends on how effective the vaccine is, how well it protects against spreading the virus even when you do not feel sick (asymptomatic spread), and which groups of people get the vaccine. We will continue to study this as the vaccines are being given around the country.

Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection — either from previous infection or vaccination — that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people do not have any protection themselves.

Is there a microchip in the vaccine?

There are no microchips or other additives in the COVID-19 vaccines. When new medical treatments or other technologies arrive, there are often rumors that those things will be used to track or control our behaviors. Quick advances in technology can make people nervous, but this rumor is false.

Who is eligible for the vaccine?

On May 5, 2021 the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) endorsed the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19) vaccine for people age 12 and older. Arkansas Children’s is now giving the vaccine to people between the ages of 12 and 21.

If I had a documented, confirmed case of COVID-19, do I still need the vaccination?

If you previously had COVID-19, you can and should still get vaccinated if you are not in an isolation or quarantine period for a current positive COVID-19 test or exposure.

If I have had an antibody test that shows COVID-19 antibodies, do I still need the vaccination?

Yes. You can and should still get vaccinated.

Should I get the vaccine if I recently tested positive for COVID-19?

We are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and allowing anyone who is more than 14 days out from their COVID-19 infection (out of isolation/quarantine) to be vaccinated. We know from the clinical trials that people with COVID-19 infection still benefit from the vaccine and do not seem to have worse side effects.

Will there be enough vaccines for everyone?

We now have a large supply of vaccine around the state. Anyone who wants to be vaccinated and is age 12 and older can receive one. 

Will the vaccine be mandatory in the future?

This will depend on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and national guidelines.

Why don’t I need an antibody or COVID-19 test before getting the vaccine?

We are not doing antibody or COVID-19 testing before vaccination because it wouldn’t change anything about whether or not you should be vaccinated. We know the antibodies from natural infection only last a few months, so even if your antibody test was positive, we would want to vaccinate you to boost your immune response.

What if I have an asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) COVID-19 infection when I receive my vaccine?

We are not recommending testing people to see if they are asymptomatically (showing no symptoms) infected before giving them the vaccine. There is nothing in the data that shows that people with COVID-19 have worse side effects or less benefit from the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests waiting to vaccinate anyone who is currently COVID-19 positive or people who were exposed to COVID-19 while they’re still in their quarantine period. This helps protect the health care worker giving the vaccine from unneeded exposure to COVID-19.

As long as you are masked appropriately and your vaccinator is wearing appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE), the risk of spread would be very low if you are unknowingly asymptomatically (showing no symptoms) infected.

Can I test positive for COVID-19 due to the vaccine?

You cannot get infected with COVID-19 from the vaccine itself. Infection comes from coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19 infection. If you have a positive swab test for COVID-19, you are infected with COVID-19. The vaccine only impacts your antibody tests, which are blood tests. The vaccine does not contain any live virus.

What if I get exposed to or infected with COVID-19 after I get my first vaccine dose, but before I get my second dose?

With high COVID-19 rates in the community, it is possible that you will be exposed to or infected with COVID-19 before you complete your two-vaccine series. If you begin to have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, fatigue, etc.) after your first vaccine and those symptoms last more than 24 hours, you should follow the recommended protocol for quarantine and testing (if necessary). If this happens, talk to your primary care provider and discuss when you should get your second dose.

Do the vaccines work against the COVID-19 variants of concern, like the Delta variant?

All COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, including the Delta variant.

Does the vaccine help prevent COVID-19 spread in communities, even if a vaccinated person gets infected?

Several studies show that if a vaccinated person gets infected with COVID-19 (which is very rare and called a “breakthrough infection”), they have far less detectable virus in their system. That means they are less likely to spread infections to other people.

When does my protection start after the vaccine?

You may consider yourself fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of the vaccine. People in the studies of the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19) and Moderna vaccines had 95% protection from COVID-19 infection beginning 1-2 weeks after their second dose of the vaccine. Similar studies show that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was 66% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection and highly effective in preventing hospitalization and death due to COVID-19.

Does immunity after getting COVID-19 last longer than protection from COVID-19 vaccines?

The protection someone gains from having an infection (called natural immunity) varies depending on the disease, and it varies from person to person. Since there’s still a lot we don’t know about the virus, we don’t yet know how long natural immunity might last. The information we have so far shows that most people get a bigger immune response, if we look at how much antibody they make, from the vaccine than they do from natural infection.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine need to be given annually?

We don’t know yet. The vaccine manufacturer will continue to monitor vaccine recipients for several months or more so that, over time, we will continue to get a better picture of how long the vaccine’s protection lasts. With this information, we will be better able to understand whether vaccines against COVID-19 will require annual dosing like influenza.

How do we know if a COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

To make sure they are safe and effective, the vaccines go through intense clinical trials and safety reviews before they’re approved. Thousands of people from various age groups, racial backgrounds and ethnicities from all over the nation participated in vaccine trials before the vaccines went through even more scrutiny from experts at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In real world use, over many months, more than 160 million people have been vaccinated in the United States and it has proven to be just as safe and effective as we saw in clinical trials.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said pregnant and breastfeeding women who are at high risk of exposure do qualify to receive the vaccine if they choose.

While pregnant or breastfeeding women were not included in the clinical trials, health officials have not detected safety concerns among thousands of pregnant women who have received a COVID-19 vaccine or among their babies.

There is no evidence of any impact on future fertility or on pregnancy. In fact, many women who chose to get vaccinated have gotten pregnant and given birth since getting vaccinated. In addition, their babies were born with the antibodies required to protect themselves from COVID-19.

There is no evidence that vaccines would impact fertility, a developing baby or breastmilk. Both the Society for Maternal and Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women be allowed to get the vaccine. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics released news stating preliminary data shows no safety concerns for pregnant women receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Any pregnant person, or person considering pregnancy or breastfeeding should talk to their doctor about possible individual risk factors or concerns.

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is age 12 and older get a COVID-19 vaccination. At Arkansas Children’s, we are encouraging all eligible individuals to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

The Pfizer clinical trials had participants as young as 12, and vaccines are only approved for individuals 12 years of age or older. The Moderna vaccine is only currently approved for individuals 18 years of age and older. Future studies will help us determine the effects of vaccines in younger children.

What are the side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines?

Like other routine vaccinations, COVID-19 vaccines may cause short-term pain at the injection site. After the second dose, there may be more pain and systemic effects like fever, fatigue and muscle aches. These side effects are usually gone in a day or two. There are no concerns about long-term side effects or how the vaccine would impact people later in life. If you have concerns, we encourage you to talk to your care provider or contact Arkansas Children’s directly.

The most common side effects of any COVID-19 vaccine are arm pain, fatigue, fever and body aches. These side effects are brief and typically get better without any intervention. These side effects come from the work your immune system is doing to “learn” from the vaccine so it can fight the real virus in the future. It does not mean that you are infected with COVID-19. and the vaccines do not contain live virus.

A few days after receiving the second dose of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, some children and young adults have developed mild inflammation of their heart, called myocarditis or pericarditis. In most cases, symptoms have gotten better quickly with rest and medications. This side effect is less common and less severe than the serious heart complications we have seen in children with COVID-19 infection. Vaccination is recommended for everyone 12 years of age and older to prevent the serious complications associated with COVID-19 infection.

A rare side effect of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may be seen in women under age 50, where they develop low platelets (a part of blood that helps with clotting) and blood clots. This is called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. There are also rare reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, although it is not clear that this is directly related to the vaccine. Guillain-Barre syndrome can occur after many viral infections and vaccines and is not specific to the COVID-19 vaccine. These side effects are very rare and have not been reported in the mRNA vaccines.

Can I take acetaminophen or ibuprofen before or after my vaccine to prevent side effects?

If you develop fever or body aches, it is okay to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen AFTER your vaccine. However, we do not recommend taking any of those medications before your vaccine. For other vaccines, those medications can decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine. Until we have more data about how they affect the COVID-19 vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you not pre-treat yourself with medication. As always, you should discuss any of your individual medications or health care concerns with your primary care provider.

Could I have an allergic reaction to the vaccine?

The current rate of anaphylaxis (a severe, life-threatening reaction) for the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19) vaccine is 11.1 per 1 million doses administered. Everyone is monitored for reactions following their vaccine, and we have emergency supplies available if there are any issues. If you have any questions about an individual allergy, be sure to check with your primary care provider.

Individuals who have an allergic reaction to the first dose of the vaccine should be evaluated by an allergist and may not be a candidate for the second vaccine dose. Only a handful of people who received the vaccine at Arkansas Children's had allergic reactions and those who have been assessed on an individual level. NONE have had anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions. We have taken every precaution to be prepared for vaccine reactions and have all the required medications and personnel available to take care of someone experiencing an allergic reaction. Team members who receive the vaccine must wait 15 minutes before leaving so we can monitor the person receiving the vaccine.

Expected, non-allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine include: fever, chills, fatigue, pain, erythema or swelling at the injection site, lymph node swelling in the same arm as the vaccination, headache, vomiting or diarrhea, muscle aches, and joint pains.

What if I have a latex allergy?

A latex allergy is not a reason to not get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vial stoppers (the lid on the container that holds the vaccine) are latex-free.

Where can I get a vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to all adults and children in Arkansas 12 years of age and older. We encourage all eligible individuals to get the vaccine as soon as possible. To book your vaccination appointment, you can find the location that is closest and most convenient for you at vaccines.gov.

At Arkansas Children’s, we are offering the Comirnaty (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19) vaccine to our qualifying individuals — those between the ages of 12 and 21. Visit archildrens.org/getmyvaccine to schedule an appointment.

Can my child get the vaccine somewhere other than Arkansas Children’s?

Yes. Your family may have access to the vaccine at another community clinic or local pharmacy. Please research the options available at the vaccines.gov website.

We want individuals to receive the vaccine in the way that is most convenient and helpful for their families.

How do we register for the vaccination at Arkansas Children's?

Individuals between the ages of 12 and 21 can schedule the first vaccine dose one of two ways:

  1. Online: Click here to schedule online or visit archildrens.org/getmyvaccine. Make an appointment now to reserve your spot.
  2. Call: Call 501-364-1202 to schedule an appointment in central Arkansas, or 479-725-6995 to schedule an appointment in northwest Arkansas.

Second doses will be scheduled during your first dose appointment.