The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is safe for kids 12-17 and protects them from serious illness.
According to a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association (CHA), nearly 4 million children were diagnosed with COVID-19 as of July 1, 2021, which accounts for 14% of all cases. As more restrictions are lifted children will be returning to in-person learning, sports and other extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, with only 49% of the United States population vaccinated, kids are still at risk.
Even with safe, effective options available, some concerned parents still are hesitant to vaccinate their children.
GET THE FACTS -THE PFIZER COVID-19 VACCINE IS SAFE FOR KIDS
There is a great deal of misinformation regarding the safety of the vaccines, particularly in children 12-17 years old, but correctly administered, it is safe and effective. Concerns ranging from severe side effects to fertility difficulties have flooded the internet.
Dr. Hira Ahmed is a physician with Reid Pediatrics and Internal Medicine. Her practice focuses on caring for children from birth through age 21 and she is confident the vaccinations are safe and necessary.
"The COVID vaccine does not make anyone sterile. If you choose to get pregnant one day, it is safe to go ahead and get vaccinated now," Dr. Ahmed explained. "If you are currently pregnant, there is no evidence to this point that it alters the placenta or affects the pregnancy in any way." The CDC agrees, it is indeed safe to get pregnant after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
Some people are also concerned that the mRNA-based vaccines will change the structure of our genetic material, but that is incorrect. Because the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of human cells, it cannot alter DNA. As with many medications, however, some side effects have been reported, such as pain, swelling and redness at the site of the injection, which, according to Dr. Ahmed is typical for most vaccines.
"Some children may develop a flu-like syndrome with body aches, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and fever for 1-2 days post vaccination," Dr. Ahmed said. "This is a side effect that I find is actually helpful because it shows immunization is effective and the vaccine is doing its job." Symptoms typically resolve without long-term issues.
There have also been some rare cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, following COVID vaccinations in children over the age of 16. The investigation is ongoing, however, out of the millions of vaccines issued, only about 1,000 cases of heart inflammation have been reported out of 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and providers agree the benefits of preventing a COVID-19 infection far outweigh the risk.
For children below the eligible vaccination age of 12 years old, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends they wear a mask in public places or around anyone they do not know. More information on CDC guidelines for children, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/adolescents.html
Reid Health providers continue to recommend vaccines for adults and children alike so they can go back to school and resume social activities safely. But if there are still questions, concerned parents should talk to their child's pediatrician.