Is The Covid-‐19 Vaccine Safe For Our 12-‐15 Aged Children?

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 5/14/2021, 4:43 a.m.
Every parent wants to do nothing more than to protect his or her child from any kind of danger. They ...

Every parent wants to do nothing more than to protect his or her child from any kind of danger. They want to be that shield. That superhero that will do whatever it takes to keep their child safe. And when they can't figure out how to do that it leaves them in a state of panic. A little over 14 months ago parents, along with the rest of the world, went into panic mode. A virus that no one had heard of overtook the universe and no one had definitive answers on what it was, how to contain it or how to treat it. Months of isolation, hours upon hours of trial and error with sound research finally allowed some light in our dark spaces with an approved vaccine. Pfizer became the first drug company with a vaccine approved for distribution in the U.S. Pfizer is again leading the pack with the first vaccine approved for children between the ages of 12-15. Like with the rollout of the vaccine for adults, many have concerns and questions with the top one being, "Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for my child?"

Children once were the population least likely to be affected by COVID-19. Numerous infectious disease doctors said because children are not the primary spreaders of COVID their risk level was low due to their still developing immune system and few health problems. But now with so many adults getting the vaccine children are now the leading population for getting COVID. Some stats even indicate that more children have been hospitalized for COVID-19 than the flu. Doctors are in a push to get as many people vaccinated as possible before other variants of the cornavirus spread causing more positive COVID-19 cases.

Though some believe the 12-15 age group is at low risk for getting the cornavirus they still should be closely watched as they could spread the virus easily. With more and more states reduces restrictions and schools considering full time in-person instruction, this age group has an increase interaction with others and can bring all those germs home to their parents and grandparents who may have weaken immune systems resulting in a surge of the virus.

"Adults living in a household with a child engaged in full-time in-person school had an increase in odds of reporting COVID-19 like illness, loss of taste/smell, or positive SARS-CoV-2 test within previous 14 days," said Dr. Sara Oliver of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases to CNN.

The US Food and Drug Administration is getting ahead of this pending problem by approving the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine in children 12-15 year olds on this past Monday. The Center for Disease Control has also followed up with their approval for teens and preteens as well.

"Today, I adopted CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' (ACIP) recommendation that endorsed the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and its use in 12- through 15-year-old adolescents," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control said in a statement.

With this hurdle reached, Pfizer is looking on to the future by preparing to submit for authorization of the vaccine in children ages 2-11 this September. Currently, they are testing the vaccine in children as young as 6 months old. Like wise the FDA is exploring the approval of vaccines next month in children under 12.

Will teens and parents want the vaccine?

Allowing more people to be vaccinated is welcomed news in many areas including with President Joe Biden who commented that an additional 17 million people are now eligible to be vaccinated.

"Now, I encourage each of them and their parents to get their vaccination shots right away," Biden said.

How many parents and teens will follow President Biden's advice? The number is uncertain. In the first few days when the vaccine was first ready for distribution many adults flooded drive-thru stations, hospitals, doctor's offices, and pharmacies with their sleeves rolled up ready for their shot. But there were still hundreds more on the sidelines with the "wait and see attitude." Due to past history with health crisis in American and the use of Americans as guinea pigs and other horrid history, many had their guard up when it came to the vaccine. More researched and the history of others did bring some around to get the vaccine but there are still some not in favor of it at all. Will adults subject their children to the same scrutiny? Absolutely!

A question at the top of parents' minds is how safe is the vaccine for children. In clinical trials no significant adverse effects were reported in children ages 12-15 deeming it safe by health professionals.

Another concern was the administration of the vaccine in conjunction with other vaccines. The CDC has said there is not a major concern and vaccines can be given without regard to time. In fact, children may need to catch up on their vaccinations like those against influenza, tetanus, meningitis and human papillomavirus (HPV). The American Academy of Pediatrics also backs these claims.

Parents will need to give consent in order for their child to be vaccinated. As soon as they are ready, they don't have to wait. Pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors' office already have an ample supply of the vaccine ready to be administered in the arms of this new population.

In some states, several children have already eagerly received the vaccine. One Georgia teen was more than ready to be vaccinated after watching one of his friends suffer with COVID. The thought of him contracting the disease frightened him and getting the vaccine will ease his fears. While another teen wanted to get the vaccine so they would feel more comfortable going out in public. These sentiments of these teens are similar to those of adults.

Going back to our original question, "Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children ages 12-15?" All studies up to now indicate it is. Nothing can be 100% safe but at this point in time it is our best defense beyond wearing masks, washing your hands and social distancing. It is also best to put up your best defense possible against any threat to human life. Educate yourselves and make the best the decision for you and your teen.

For more information, visit www.CDC.gov.