As of May 12, 2021, the CDC recommended that children 12 and up should receive the COVID 19 vaccine after it was given emergency use authorization by the FDA . The American Academy of Pediatrics has also issued a statement in support of vaccinating all children ages 12 and up. Prior to this, children 16 and up could get the vaccine. My wife and I were thrilled by this and just go our child vaccinated as soon as possible. I’m also recommending that all of my patients twelve and up get the vaccine.
Unfortunately, only 46-60% of parents plan to get their child vaccinated, slightly lower than their own intention. (The slides here and below are from the CDC).
If you are one of those parents who worry about this, here are my reasons why we wanted to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Update: As of November 2nd, the CDC is recommending the vaccine for 5-11 year olds, which is great news as well. Although I wrote most of the post in May, I think that the reasoning behind it is valid.
1. My son could get sick from COVID-19
There’s a widespread belief that kids don’t get sick from COVID -19. Unfortunately, that is not the case, although most children have very mild illness.
The fact is, the incidence of hospitalization for COVID-19 is rising. Look at this graph from the CDC showing that the rate of hospitalization is increasing compared to where we were during the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza pandemic.
During that pandemic, I saw children get sick and die. I also had patients who had serious complications. Most had risk factors (such as asthma or muscular dystrophy), but some did not.
2. The vaccine is effective
The vaccine was shown to work amazingly well in adolescents. Adolescents in the clinical trial produced very high levels of antibody. Moreover, the vaccine was shown to be 100% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID infections. Frankly, these are fantastic results.
3. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is remarkably safe
No serious side effects have been reported in the trial of over two thousand children in this age group.
UPDATE: This original post was published on 5/17/21. Shortly after this, news articles broke that the CDC was evaluating cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) predominantly in young males and usually after the second dose of the vaccination. As of now the CDC thinks that these events are consistent with the baseline incidence of myocarditis and not related to the vaccine In layman’s terms, here’s what that means. Myocarditis occurs after viral infections in a small group of children and adults every year. The number of cases reported seems consistent with the usual number of cases. That being said, as a parent, I’m following this story closely.
4. My son wanted the vaccine
When I asked him why, he said, “I’m sick of COVID-19 and I want things to go back to normal. Getting the vaccine will help get us to herd immunity. It will also protect my brother” (who is less than 12). He also notes that a relative is very sick with cancer and that it will protect her as well.
Adolescents are more likely to have COVD infections than younger kids, and can definitely transmit it, even though they tend not to get particularly sick. Here are two examples of this.
5. It helps everyone
Are you sick of wearing a mask? Me too. The fastest way back to normalcy is through vaccination. Getting vaccinated protects children, relatives, and more vulnerable individuals.
Vaccinating everyone is really difficult. Here in the US we are fortunate to have ready access to the vaccine. Getting the vaccine helps us, our neighbors, our country, and our planet.
6. There is no cost for the vaccine
Honestly, I would be happy to pay a lot of money for the vaccine. Amazingly, I didn’t have to. And neither do you, in the US. You CANNOT be charged for the vaccine in the USA. The following is from the CDC website:
- COVID-19 vaccination providers cannot:
- Charge you for the vaccine.
- Charge you any administration fees, copays, coinsurance, or the balance of the bill after appropriate reimbursement.
- Deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network.
- Charge an office visit or other fee to the recipient if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccination.
- Require additional services in order for a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; however, additional healthcare services can be provided at the same time and billed as appropriate.
If anyone is trying to charge you, it’s a scam.
How to get the Covid vaccine for your 12-15 year old child
This is really easy. Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
Here was our experience getting the vaccine.
We went on Sunday after signing up the previous Wednesday. It was easy. We went to a facility at the university where I work.
Joe, a firefighter, administered the shot. He said that it was packed on Friday and Saturday with teenagers, but it was very quiet.
We waited 15 minutes and were out of there. Mission accomplished.
Update: Now my younger son is vaccinated as well
My younger boy is eleven. In the springtime we had the opportunity to enter him in the Moderna vaccine trial. We elected to defer at this time, but leapt at the chance to join the trial in August. Why did we wait? I wanted to see how the myocarditis story shook out.
Although the trial was blinded, T had a 75% chance of getting the vaccine instead of placebo. Given that his arm was sore after both doses and that he felt a bit under the weather after the second vaccine. As part of the clinical trial, the “code” was broken when the Pfizer vaccine was allowed in 5-11 year olds, and we received confirmation that he had been vaccinated.
More information on why to vaccinate your child:
- Dr. Ashish Jha wrote a terrific article for Time Magazine about why you should vaccinate your child.
- CNN has an article answering kids’ and parents’ questions about the vaccine.
- Here is a link to the CDC’s recommendation for vaccination in the 5-11 yo age range.
- Even Sesame Street is out there putting out useful information for children.
I am tremendously relieved and grateful that all of our family members– my wife and I, children, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews have all been vaccinated. We are looking forward to safely enjoying the holidays together.
Have you vaccinated your child? Do you have questions about the vaccine? I’m not an expert but I am happy to help.