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A pediatrician talks COVID vaccine recommendations for kids 12-15

Last Modified: May 14, 2021

Family Medicine, Diseases & Disorders


This post was written by Duane Hougendobler, MD, PPG – Pediatrics.

Pediatric and Family Medicine providers were thrilled to hear that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was approved for children, 12-15 years of age. We absolutely recommend this protective measure for this patient population and consider the news a huge win for our kids.

Why should parents consider it?

It’s important for children to get the vaccine primarily for two reasons: 1) It minimizes the stress and disruption our kids have experienced over the past year and a half. This step could get them back to their normal activities, which are important for their physical, intellectual, social and mental development. And 2) Having children get the vaccine helps protect older relatives and those who might be at high risk for severe COVID-19.

I think we have a false belief that children won’t be harmed by COVID-19. That’s simply not true. While the number of deaths seen in young people compared to adults was significantly smaller, it wasn’t insignificant, either. If we can save one life, it’s worth it.

Kids who get COVID are experiencing Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), which has long-term effects. Having the vaccine can protect them from these life-altering risks and offer protection against potential variants of the virus. Early studies are showing the Pfizer vaccine is nearly 100% effective for young people.

Vaccine hesitancy

As pediatricians, we face vaccine hesitancy often. Each parent has to weigh the pros and cons of the decisions they make for their children. We are not seeing any major side effects from the vaccine at this time. Children experience symptoms similar to adults, including tiredness and muscle aches. In this case, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Pairing with other vaccines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) approved the administering of regularly scheduled vaccines in conjunction with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This means that parents can get their child’s other routine immunizations at the same time as the COVID shot, which should help reduce some confusion.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which is different than the other immunizations your child currently receives, which are predominantly a safe form of a live virus. You can learn more about how mRNA vaccines work here.

The path forward

While we can’t let our guard down and stop doing some of the other preventative things we’ve been doing – like hand washing and mask wearing – the COVID-19 vaccine can give us another tool in the toolbox. Kids are going to be kids. They sneeze and cough and touch everything. This is a smart way to add another layer of protection against the virus, particularly as summer camps and activities begin to rev up.

We certainly understand parents’ concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, but I would recommend talking to a healthcare professional before you make any decisions. There’s so much information out there, but a clinical professional will be able to help you make a logical, rather than strictly emotional, decision. The bottom line is that we want to protect our kids. And protect families.


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