Most of what we know is not specific to people with autism, with a few exceptions. For example, autistic people who live in residential settings with many other people, which we call congregate facilities, are more likely to contract COVID, much like older people in nursing homes. But also, people with autism have higher rates of underlying health conditions, and those conditions put them at risk for severe disease if they get COVID. People with behavioral or developmental conditions like autism may have other difficulties with preventive measures and communication. Some states have found people with intellectual disabilities, some of whom also have autism, may have a greater risk of dying from COVID if they become infected. And, for people who need direct support, that also comes with greater exposure risk because service providers often see multiple people in a day; or a week and close contact is unavoidable. All of these are reasons it is critical to get one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines as soon as you are able.
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can lower your risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines can also help prevent serious illness and death. All steps have been taken to ensure that vaccines are safe and effective for people ages 5 years and older. If you already had COVID-19, you should still get a COVID-19 vaccine for added protection. Getting sick with COVID-19 can cause severe illness or death, even in children, and we can’t reliably predict who will have a mild or severe illness. You may have long-term health issues after COVID-19 infection. Even people who do not have symptoms when they are initially infected can have these ongoing health problems. People who are sick with COVID-19 may spread COVID-19 to others including friends and family who are not eligible for vaccination and people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Some people have side effects from the vaccine, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. These side effects may affect their ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Some people have no side effects, and allergic reactions are rare. Common side effects include pain, redness, and swelling on the arm you got the shot. Some other common side effects are fever, tiredness, headache, body ache, chills, and at times nausea. Severe allergic reactions after a COVID-19 vaccine are rare.
Children can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines at the same visit.
Children ages 5 and up can get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The vaccines are safe for children in this age group. Clinical trials were conducted with thousands of children and no serious safety concerns were identified.
Talk to a doctor about taking over the- counter medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin (only for people ages 18 years or older), or antihistamines for any pain and discomfort experienced after getting vaccinated. People can take these medications to relieve side effects after vaccination if they have no other medical reasons that prevent them from taking these medications normally. Ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice on using a non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child after vaccination. Also, to reduce pain and discomfort where the shot was given apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth to the area. Use or exercise your arm to work out the soreness. To reduce discomfort from fever drink plenty of fluids and dress lightly.