Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19
and COVID-19 Vaccines

We understand you may have many questions about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. Valley Children’s has developed this list of frequently asked questions as a resource to keep you informed and help answer questions you may have about this quickly evolving topic.

Visit MyTurn.ca.gov to locate a vaccine clinic near you or contact your primary care provider. 

 

Vaccine Resources for Parents:

In addition to the list of frequently asked questions below, Valley Children's has developed a series of video and printed resources to answer questions and help parents prepare for their child's vaccination appointment.

  • Social Story: A Step-by-Step Guide Helping Children and Families Prepare for their Vaccine Appointment at Valley Children's Hospital (PDF download) - English | Spanish

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), children can be infected and either have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or become ill enough to require hospitalization. Children who are more likely to become severely ill are those with chronic medical conditions including obesity, conditions that weaken the immune system, asthma and diabetes.

While most children infected with COVID-19 will recover, some may become severely ill and need hospitalization. In rare instances, a child may die from COVID-19 infection or complications. In addition, some children and teens who get COVID-19 have developed post-COVID conditions, collectively known as “long-haul COVID.” Children exposed to or infected with COVID-19 are also at risk of developing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children – or MIS-C. This is a rare, but serious, condition associated with COVID-19, which causes different organs to become inflamed. Valley Children’s has treated more than 100 children for MIS-C, with many of them requiring intensive care.

 

As of June 18, 2022, the COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for anyone at least six months of age.

 

Vaccinating babies and young children can reduce your child's risk of becoming severely ill. Although COVID-19 is usually not as severe in children, some do get very ill. Even if your child doesn't get very ill from COVID-19, they can still spread the virus to others who are at risk, such as elderly and immunocompromised family members.

 

Yes, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – which use mRNA – are effective for kids 17 years of age and younger. The only contraindication to the vaccine is a known serious allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine.

mRNA vaccines are safe, effective and have been proven to prevent severe illness that would require hospitalization, including intensive care, and death. The vaccines are less effective in immunocompromised persons and the FDA has extended authorization and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended an additional dose of the mRNA vaccine for those with moderately or severely immunocompromised systems.

Who is considered moderately or severely immunocompromised?

  • Active treatment for solid tumor and hematologic malignancies
  • Receipt of solid-organ transplant and taking immunosuppressive therapy
  • Receipt of CAR-T-cell or hematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 2 years of transplantation or taking immunosuppression therapy)
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids (i.e., ≥20mg prednisone or equivalent per day), alkylating agents, antimetabolites, transplant-related immunosuppressive drugs, cancer chemotherapeutic agents classified as severely immunosuppressive, tumor-necrosis (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory.

 

Common side effects are temporary and can include: fever, chills, tiredness, headache and pain or swelling in the arm you got the vaccine. Swollen lymph nodes near the site of the injection can also occur.

Fever, fatigue, headache can also occur in young children.

mRNA vaccines have a risk of a rare adverse event, heart inflammation or myocarditis, occurring most often in adolescent and young adult males after the second dose of the vaccine, which has not been associated with death or any long term sequelae. 

Cough, congestion and runny nose are not side effects of the vaccine and may be symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

 

For detailed information about COVID-19 vaccination scheduling by age and vaccine manufacturer, and to see if your child is up to date, review the CDC's COVID-19 Vaccine Up to Date tool: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/stay-up-to-date.html#children 

 

The vaccine’s safety was studied in thousands of children who received the vaccine and no serious side effects have been detected in the ongoing study. 

The CDC recommends the vaccine for all eligible children because the benefits of the vaccine for kids outweigh the risks, which are the mild side effects seen 1-2 days following vaccination.

Children and families can learn more about what to expect during their vaccine appointment by viewing our step-by-step social story (PDF download) in English and Spanish about vaccine clinics at Valley Children's Hospital.

 

The FDA conducted a careful and thorough review of the safety and effectiveness data for children under age 5. The vaccines for babies and toddlers are much smaller doses than the adult vaccines. Both vaccine regimens showed similar antibody responses in kids as in the adult studies. There weren't any significant safety concerns raised in the trials—and we also now know that millions of children over age 5 have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

There are different schedules for kids depending on age and if they are immunocompromised. Dosing amounts also vary. The dosage is based on the immune system response, which is unlike other medications for children that are based on weight, but similar to other vaccines.

 

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use mRNA technology. You might think about mRNA vaccines as being like an email that sends instructions to your body about how to fight off an infection. When you get an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19, your body reads the instructions about what to do if it encounters the virus that causes COVID-19. Once your body learns these instructions, it deletes the email.

It is important to understand that mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with the DNA in our bodies in any way because mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.
 

  • People who have a known history of a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine
  • People who have fever on the day of the vaccine
  • People who are on quarantine or isolation for COVID exposure or disease

The CDC recommends that everyone eligible to receive the vaccine get it, especially adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions because they are at an increased risk for severe illness form the virus that causes COVID-19.

People can receive the COVID-19 vaccines if they have not had an immediate or severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. More information about COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions is available on the CDC’s website. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your health history and the vaccine.

 

No. You will not get COVID-19 from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine because there is no live virus in the COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine will not cause a positive result on an antigen or PCR test.
 

As long as you have recovered from your acute COVID-19 illness and are no longer contagious, you should get the vaccine because of the risk of reinfection and enhanced protection from the illness plus the vaccine.
 

COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day, as well as co-administration within 14 days.

 

COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future. Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.

Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html

 

Everyone is recommended to still follow safety measures after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Mild breakthrough disease and asymptomatic infection can occur in vaccinated persons and if this happens, the person can spread the infection to others.

 

You can obtain your record and a QR code (SMART Health Card) at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov.

If you received one or more doses at Valley Children’s Hospital, your vaccine information – including the date of vaccine and lot number – are available through MyChart. If a patient needs to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result, they can do so from their MyChart app on their mobile device. A step-by-step guide for how to access your proof of vaccination or negative test result on the MyChart app are available in English and Spanish.

If you need a replacement vaccine card, please call Valley Children’s Health Information Management office at 559-353-5404. You will need to show identification when picking up the card.

 

Valley Children’s is committed to keeping our patients, families and healthcare providers as safe as possible from the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). 

 

Valley Children's Hospital Visitor Policy

Valley Children’s Hospital allows two parents/direct caregivers per patient (including COVID+ patients) during their inpatient hospital stay, along with visits to outpatient (specialty and primary care), laboratory and imaging appointments. Parents/guardians, caregivers and visitors do not need to show proof of vaccination when entering Valley Children's Hospital, following changes to California Department of Public Health orders.

 

Screenings and Mask Policy

Patients and parents/guardians are screened at all entrances – in all Valley Children’s facilities - with questions regarding health and COVID-19 exposure. Valley Children’s also requires all visitors to wear a mask in every location, at all times. (The only exception is inpatient units of the Madera Hospital campus when a parent/guardian is in their child’s room. Adults must put masks back on every time a Valley Children’s team member is present.) In addition, everyone entering Valley Children’s Hospital must wear the surgical masks provided at screening.

 

Valley Children's Specialty Care Centers and Primary Care Practices

Two parents/caregivers may accompany a child to appointments in our specialty and primary care practices. We encourage parents/caregivers to secure arrangements for siblings, when possible, as space is very limited in waiting areas.
 

Emergency Department

At this time, visitors to the Emergency Department will be limited to one parent/guardian or direct caregiver of patients. When a patient is placed into a room, a second parent/guardian will be allowed to enter. Other visitors and non-essential vendors will not be allowed to enter.

 

Vendor and Employee Guidelines

All vendors entering Valley Children’s Hospital are required to be fully vaccinated and must be prepared to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to security upon entry. No exemptions are accepted. 

Additionally, vaccines are mandatory for all Valley Children’s employees and staff without an approved medical or religious exemption.
 

If you have any questions or concerns about Valley Children's visitor policy, please contact our Patient Representatives at 559-353-5425.

 

Valley Children's Healthcare offers an online COVID-19 Symptom Checker as a resource to help guide you, based on you or your child’s current symptoms and help determine the most appropriate level of medical care. This symptom checker can be found at valleychildrens.org/COVID19symptoms.

If your child is experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or visit the closest emergency department. If an emergency room visit is appropriate, please let staff know about your possible exposure and/or symptoms immediately on arrival.

 

You can find the most up-to-date information COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov. You can also view updates from the California Department of Public Health on their COVID-19 page here.

 

Valley Children’s Hospital has adopted California SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic Crisis Care Guidelines to manage surge operation and crisis care including allocation process for ICU admission/ventilation. The shift to delivering crisis care happens at the extreme. During normal times, customary routine services are provided through standard operating procedures. As resources become constrained, from facilities to supplies to staffing, systems shift from conventional care into contingency care. Crisis care falls at the far end of the spectrum, when resources are scarce and the focus shifts from providing the best care for the individual patient to delivering the best care for the patient population.