Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has just been approved for 12- to 15-year-olds – here’s what you need to know and why you should schedule a shot as soon as possible.
As a pediatrician and someone who is very familiar with all types of childhood vaccines, I encourage everyone to sign their tweens and young teens up for a vaccine appointment as soon as they are able to do so. As the parent of a 14-year-old (and an 18-year-old who is already vaccinated), I know I will – and here’s why:
COVID-19 cases are growing in children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,
children now represent over 20% of all new infections. With the loosening of restrictions at school, as well as more transmissible mutations, this is a concern. While the effects in children have been reported to be less severe than adults, COVID-19 is still a serious illness that has resulted in pediatric hospitalizations and even deaths. Young children are also more likely to be asymptomatic carriers and could put our more vulnerable or unvaccinated family and community members at higher risk.
It’s safe! Despite the false perception that this vaccine was “rushed,” the mRNA technology that is being deployed in the Pfizer vaccine has been under development for the past decade. This technology essentially “tricks” our body’s defenses into activating without the virus actually being present (it bears reminding that there are no live viruses in the vaccine). These advances were one of the reasons the vaccine was brought to market expeditiously – because we already had all the molecular-level background to begin work on a safe and effective vaccine against it.
It likely works even better in kids. While studies are still underway to prove just how much better the vaccine works in children, it makes sense this would be the case. As has been shown in some of the other routine childhood vaccines that we administer, the immune system of younger children recognizes and responds to the “appearance” of a viral infection more robustly than older children or adults. You can be confident that the vaccine is doing its job in protecting your most cherished asset and closing the door on this health pandemic.