Illustration for article titled How to Time Your Kid's COVID-19 Vaccine

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As the Food and Drug Administration prepares to authorize the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in kids ages 12-15 as soon as next week, parents should start thinking about when it makes the most sense for their child to undergo the two-dose vaccination process. Particularly if they need other vaccines for summer camps or for school in the fall, timing is going to be everything.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends not getting any other vaccines at least two weeks before or after a COVID-19 shot. Because the Pfizer vaccine is administered in two doses about three weeks apart, that means kids will have a seven- or eight-week window when they won’t be able to get any other vaccinations. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be easier to plan around, as it’s only one dose—but they’ve only just begun clinical trials in children ages 12-17, so its approval is further off.

Parents of kids younger than 12 years old should also start thinking now about what vaccines their kids are due to receive in the coming months, as Pfizer has also said it plans to seek clearance for its vaccine to be approved for kids ages 2-11 in September. As Dr. Perri Klass writes for the New York Times:

Younger children who have other shots due might want to consider catching up right now, so that they’re fully up-to-date for sports, camp or school. That way, as soon as they are eligible for COVID vaccines, there won’t be so much juggling to be done.

And a lot of kids have catching up to do, said Dr. Bonnie Maldonado, a professor of global health and infectious diseases at Stanford who is the chair of the A.A.P. committee on infectious diseases. When it comes to immunization, she said, “We lost a lot of ground in the pandemic, and the biggest gaps are in the adolescent age group.”

Now is the time to place a call to your kid’s doctor to discuss whether they are up-to-date on their vaccines, what they’re due for in the next few months, and how they can time all the shots needed in order to get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.