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Is your child too young to be vaccinated?

A woman hugs a child, both wearing face masks.

Vaccines are helping to make adults and many kids safer from COVID-19. And they've freed up many fully vaccinated people to resume activities that had to stop during the pandemic.

But children younger than 5 aren't able to get a COVID-19 vaccine yet. And that can create some tough decisions for families. Vaccine makers are hard at work on vaccines for younger kids. But for now, how can you help see your youngsters safely through this waiting period?

Keep up good habits

To help young kids stay safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other experts say you should make sure your kids keep up these routines:

Keep masking up. For now, kids and anyone else who isn't vaccinated should keep wearing masks when out in public. You might want to wear one too, especially in public indoor spaces if COVID-19 rates are high in your area. It makes you a role model for your kids. And it can help prevent them from feeling singled out.

Unvaccinated kids can shed their masks:

  • At home with your family.
  • Outside during socially distanced activities, like taking walks, playing catch or riding bikes.
  • During small, outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated friends or family.

Keep washing hands. We've all learned to wash our hands more often during the pandemic. But kids may still need reminders.

Keep a safe distance. Until your kids are vaccinated, continue to encourage them to avoid crowds and stay 6 feet apart from people outside your family.

Keep things clean. COVID-19 spreads mainly through close contact with infected people. But it's still a good idea to regularly clean often-touched surfaces in your home, like doorknobs, tables and light switches.

Mind your child's mental health

Some kids may feel anxious or stressed while they're waiting for their chance to be vaccinated. So keep talking to your child. Find out how they're dealing with everything that's still going on. And reassure them that they're safe.

You can also help your child cope with any stress by:

  • Encouraging activity. Exercise is a mood lifter.
  • Keeping them connected. If your kids can't be with friends or relatives, help them stay in touch through phone calls, video chats or letters.
  • Spending time together doing things like taking walks, reading, watching movies and playing games.

For more on COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 11/3/2021

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