State Urges Parents to Vaccinate 12-15 Year Old Children
"I'm a mother of two children in that age group, so it's a really exciting day." - Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's Chief Medical Executive
The Pfizer vaccine is now available to children ages 12-15, and local health departments are opening up appointments and walk-ins to that age group. Meanwhile the state is urging parents to get the vaccine for all kids ages 12 and up.
The past year has been rough on all of us, but our kids are feeling it too. Lisa Sanchez Metropoulos is a parent who says the pandemic has been hard on her son. “Over the past year I feel like all I am saying to him is ‘no.’ No to sports, no to friends, no to family.”
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a pediatrician with Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital. “They’ve missed out on so much this year… these are important things for normal health and development of children.” For some parents like Metropoulos, word that younger kids can now be vaccinated is welcome news. “I had tears in my eyes. Because I finally, I wouldn’t have to answer his questions about when things could go back to normal… I could give him a date to look forward to.”
As more kids get vaccinated, it means more freedom for school, sports, and other activities. Dr. Hanna-Attisha says, “My kids, like so many kids, they’re tired of wearing masks, and they’re tired of weekly COVID tests for sports and daily screenings for school and quarantining after exposures.”
Dr. Hanna-Attisha says the vaccine can help put an end to some of the struggles kids are facing. “The pandemic has taken a huge toll on their mental and emotional health. On their social well-being and their educational well-being.”
The state says adolescent clinical trials from Pfizer have demonstrated 100% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. The 12-15 age group is important to the vaccination plan, because adolescents are vulnerable to being carriers, and passing COVID to others. Veronica McNally is the President of the Fanny Strong Foundation and the founder of the I Vaccinate campaign. She says, “Adolescents may contribute to transmission. Adolescents may be more likely to be infected than younger children. And outbreak investigations have demonstrated that adolescents can efficiently transmit COVID, including transmission to older household members.”
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive, says you can make a single appointment with a pediatrician to get your child’s vaccine, and get caught up on any shots they may have missed in the last year. “The Pfizer vaccine should be used in this age group, age 12-15. And really importantly, and again I say this as a parent, they also recommend the vaccine could be given at the same time or even the same days as other vaccines.”
“You can make a single appointment and go to your medical providers and get your child caught up on all of their immunizations all at once,” Dr. Khaldun says. She adds that the age group represents a significant population in Michigan. “That’s just under 500,000 additional people, 500,000 kids ages 12-15 who just became eligible for this vaccination.” She says, “That means fewer kids who will need to quarantine, fewer kids who will need to regularly get tested.”
Veronica McNally says she’s a mother who lost a daughter to Pertussis. That’s one more reason why she’s encouraging all parents to get their kids vaccinated. She says a survey shows a majority – or near majority – of parents plan to do just that. “Data shows… 46%-60% plan to vaccinate their children against COVID-19, and I’m one of them.”
Like all age groups, the 12-15 year olds may have some side effects from the vaccine, but experts say they’re minor compared to a COVID illness. McNally agrees. “These include pain at the injection site, more commonly after teh first dose. And symptoms like fatigue, headache, and chills were more common after the 2nd dose.” Most importantly, symptoms resolved within 1-2 days.”
For parents who have a tough time scheduling the two doses for their kids, health experts now say th second shot can be given up to four days early, and two weeks after the due date. Even after two weeks, they say it is still likely to be very effective.
For more information, visit the state’s COVID vaccine information page.
You can also visit the I Vaccinate campaign.