Unvaccinated children and young adults can get COVID-19 and like all people, are at risk for serious illness and complications. They can also spread the virus to more vulnerable family and community members.
Because people under 21 years of age make up about 25% of the nation’s population, vaccination could make a huge difference in helping achieve community immunity and ending the pandemic.
This is why it’s so important for children ages 12 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is our best hope for stopping the spread of the coronavirus and safely returning to a more usual way of life.
COVID-19 Vaccine Now Approved for Children 12-15 Years of Age
The CDC now recommends use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12–15. This is the first COVID-19 vaccine in the United States authorized for this age group. Vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, currently authorized for people ages 18 and older, are undergoing clinical trials for use in children.
Why Vaccinating Younger People Is Important
If you are concerned about getting your child vaccinated, here are some things to consider:
- The vaccine works: First and foremost, the vaccines have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. They have also basically eliminated the risk of your child becoming seriously ill enough to require hospitalization or dying from the coronavirus.
- Risk is unpredictable: Doctors can’t always predict how sick your child might become if they contract COVID-19. We do know obesity, a common teen condition affecting more than 20% of teens and young adults, is a risk factor for more severe infection and complications.
- Beyond the physical risk: Like people of all ages, children have faced mental health challenges as their worlds changed dramatically during the pandemic. Vaccinating younger people and increasing community immunity should reduce COVID-19 outbreaks and time away from valued activities like in-person school, sports, jobs, and socializing with friends and family.
Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?
While it may seem like the COVID-19 vaccines appeared quickly, the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has been years in the making, originating at Penn Medicine 15 years ago.
The CDC affirms that all COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective, having been evaluated in tens of thousands of participants in clinical trials. The vaccines met the FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for emergency use authorization. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, which continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.
Side Effects of the Vaccine
Common side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are the same as those typical of other teen vaccines: possible soreness or redness in the arm where the vaccine was injected, fever, headache, fatigue or body aches.
The symptoms only last one-to-two days after the getting the shot. And two weeks after the second dose of the two-part vaccine, you and your child can feel confident they are protected and able to safely resume more of the interactions and activities they enjoyed before the pandemic.