What’s Trending What’s Trending

Explore the latest adult vaccine developments and get helpful tips on how to communicate timely and accurate information to your friends, family and community members with the below talking points.

An illustration of a woman looking at the screen of her mobile phone

Conversation Starters

Last Updated: March 28, 2023

Are kids eligible for an updated booster?

Kids as young as 6 months old are now eligible for an updated booster. 

  • If your kid is aged 6 months to 4 years and completed their three-dose Pfizer primary series two months ago, they are now eligible for a Pfizer bivalent booster. The boosters will become available as soon as the CDC issues its recommendation, which typically shortly follows FDA authorization.
  • There is one exception: If your kid received Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine for the third shot of their primary series, they should still have protection against severe COVID-19 and are not yet eligible for another bivalent booster.
  • If your child is aged 6 months to 5 years and completed their two-dose Moderna primary series two months ago, they are eligible for a Moderna bivalent booster.
  • Both Pfizer’s and Moderna’s bivalent boosters target newer Omicron strains, helping us stay protected as immunity wanes and new COVID-19 strains become dominant.

COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in children, but it doesn’t have to be.

  • Compared to other infectious or respiratory diseases, COVID-19 ranks as the number one cause of death among kids, outranking the flu and pneumonia.
  • Yet only about 12 percent of kids ages 6 months to 4 years have received at least one dose of their primary COVID-19 vaccine series.
  • COVID-19 vaccines help prevent infection, hospitalization, severe illness, and death from the virus for all age groups, infants and young kids included.

Serious health problems after COVID-19 vaccination are rare.

  • The COVID-19 vaccines went through clinical trials involving thousands of children and teens before being authorized and approved.
  • The clinical trials, as well as continued safety monitoring by health agencies, have determined that the authorized COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective.
  • Certain side effects are common after COVID-19 vaccination, but serious health problems are rare.
  • Common side effects for infants and young kids include pain where the shot was given, swollen lymph nodes, irritability or crying, sleepiness, and loss of appetite. These side effects usually go away in a few days.
  • Any risk of serious health problems for kids is understandably worrisome for parents, but it’s clear that the risks of COVID-19 infection outweigh the risk of having an adverse reaction to COVID-19 vaccination.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Last Updated: March 21, 2023

Are mRNA vaccines safe?

The benefits of COVID-19 vaccines greatly outweigh the risks. 

  • Like every medical intervention, vaccination can come with adverse effects. But serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccines are rare and are greatly outweighed by the benefits of being vaccinated.
  • The risk of stroke and heart attack after COVID-19 infection is lower, not higher, in vaccinated people, as confirmed by cardiovascular experts.
  • Myocarditis, or heart inflammation, is a real but rare risk for adolescents. The benefits of the primary vaccine series continue to outweigh the risks for this age group. Safety data so far also supports bivalent boosters for adolescents.
  • Adults who are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines are nearly eight times less likely to die from the virus than people who are unvaccinated.
  • Vaccination is also associated with lower risk of long COVID.

U.S. health agencies continue to closely monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety.

  • The CDC and FDA use a variety of tools to monitor COVID-19 vaccines for potential risks in real time.
  • When these monitoring systems pick up on an increase in adverse events, scientists look deeper into the data to determine if the increase is caused by vaccination or if it’s a coincidence.
  • The authorized COVID-19 vaccines have all met the FDA’s rigorous standards for safety and effectiveness and continue to be monitored closely.

mRNA vaccines are safe and provide valuable protection.

  • Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines continue to protect against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
  • The effectiveness of these vaccines wanes over time, so staying up to date on vaccines ensures that you are as protected as possible.
  • All mRNA vaccine ingredients are safe and leave the body after they help trigger an immune response.
  • COVID-19 vaccines, including mRNA ones, do not contain a live virus and will not give you a COVID-19 infection.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Last Updated: March 13, 2023

Do masks protect against COVID-19?

High-quality masks can protect you against COVID-19. 

  • COVID-19 spreads through particles, including droplets and aerosols.
  • Studies have shown that masks reduce the number of particles you inhale and the number of particles you emit.
  • The quality of the mask matters. N95 masks work best against both droplets and aerosols, while surgical and cloth masks don’t work as well against aerosols.
  • The fit of the mask matters. Masks become less effective when there are leaks that give particles a chance to enter and exit.

It’s less clear whether masks have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 at the community level.

  • It’s difficult to study the effectiveness of masks at the community level because not everyone wears them and those who do may not wear them properly.
  • Studies have found a range of effectiveness of masks against COVID-19, and the authors of the Cochrane review conclude that they are “uncertain” about whether masks slow the spread of respiratory viruses.
  • The Cochrane review acknowledges that study findings were limited by the fact that “relatively low numbers of people” followed mask guidance.

Masking is just one layer of protection.

  • High-quality masks, if worn correctly, can reduce your chances of getting infected.
  • But in the real world, perfect masking is not always possible, and many other factors can limit the effectiveness of masks.
  • That’s why layering up on protective measures, including getting boosted and washing your hands, is important.
  • Assess your personal risk and make decisions that make you feel safe and comfortable.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Last Updated: March 09, 2023

How many COVID boosters do I need each year?

For now, data supports everyone getting one COVID-19 booster per year. 

  • There is not enough data yet to support multiple COVID-19 boosters per year.
  • Data shows that protection against infection has been falling for people who received a bivalent booster, especially older adults.
  • But, so far, protection against hospitalization still seems to be strong for everyone, including those at high risk.
  • This guidance on booster timing could change in the future if hospitalizations rise among those who received a bivalent booster or if the COVID-19 virus mutates significantly.

COVID-19 is still sending thousands of people to the hospital every day.

  • Among children under age 5 and adults over 49, more than 80 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to be “for” COVID-19 rather than “with,” meaning that COVID-19 is the primary reason for those hospitalizations.
  • Nearly all adults hospitalized for COVID-19 had at least one underlying medical condition, with the most common being chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease.
  • Over half of children and adolescents hospitalized for COVID-19 had at least one underlying medical condition, with the most common being asthma and prematurity.

Data continues to show COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

  • Longer-term data supports the conclusion that bivalent boosters are very unlikely to be linked to an increased risk of stroke among older adults.
  • Myocarditis is a rare but real risk for adolescents, but the benefits of getting a primary vaccine series continue to outweigh the risks for this age group.
  • The CDC and FDA have multiple vaccine safety monitoring systems and continue to use them to screen for the risk of adverse events in real time.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish
Last Updated: February 24, 2023

What resources are available for people with long COVID?

Visit your primary care doctor if you are experiencing post-COVID symptoms. 

  • Your primary care doctor can rule out other potential causes of your symptoms and refer you to appropriate specialists.
  • For people who don’t have health insurance, community health centers offer free or low-cost services, including primary care.
  • You can ask your doctor to refer you to a long COVID clinic or specialist. There are post-COVID care centers in nearly every state, but they may have a long wait list or require proof of a positive PCR test.
  • Use this checklist to prepare for your appointments. It’s important to keep a summary of when you had COVID-19, when your long COVID symptoms began, and how they affect your daily life.

Take advantage of disability accommodations and support groups.

Avoiding infection is the best way to prevent long COVID symptoms.

  • There is still a lot we don’t know about long COVID and its symptoms, which is why care and treatment can be limited and hard to access.
  • Data has shown that long COVID is a risk even for people who experienced a mild case of COVID-19.
  • Some early data suggests that mRNA vaccines and Paxlovid both help decrease the risk of developing long COVID, though more research is needed to confirm these findings.
  • Beware of alternative treatments for COVID-19 or long COVID, such as ivermectin, that may not be proven effective or may even be harmful.
View Resource Download resource: English / Spanish

Automatic translation disclaimer

El sitio web Vaccine Resource Hub proporciona una traducción automática de vaccineresourcehub.org al español, por medio del Traductor de Google. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que la versión en inglés es considerada la más precisa. En caso de desacuerdo o discrepancia entre la traducción y la versión original en inglés de este sitio web o cualquier aviso o descargo, prevalecerá la versión original.