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Know the Facts for the COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Children 12 and Up

Vaccine for 12 and Up

Since the initial approval of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of 2020, many have raised questions about the approval process and if it’s really necessary. Now, the eligible group has expanded to include children ages 12-15. Due to misconceptions, some parents are wondering — is it safe for my child to roll up their sleeve? Here are the facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and what you can do to protect your children and those around them.

Vaccine Myths Vs. Facts

Myth: The testing was rushed and the vaccine is unsafe.

Fact: The COVID-19 vaccine was thoroughly tested and reviewed by experts ... and it is safe!

While it may seem like the approval process was rushed; there were no missed steps. The country’s best independent scientists and public health experts were in charge of reviewing the trial data and results. During the Pfizer clinical trial, over 2,000 children, ages 12-15, were involved in this round of testing. Like the adult trial, half received the COVID-19 vaccine and the other half received the placebo, which was a harmless saline solution. There were no cases of symptomatic COVID-19 disease in the group that received the COVID-19 vaccine. There were 18 cases in the placebo group.

To further validate the efficacy and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in those 12-15 years of age, researchers also collected information by comparing antibody levels of those who have been vaccinated. Researchers looked at antibody levels of the vaccinated persons 12-15 years of age, compared to the antibody levels in another group, 16-25 years of age, who are already protected by the COVID-19 vaccine. Antibody levels of the 12-15 age group were better than the older group.

While both of my children are much older than the 12-15 age range, they are vaccinated and if I had children in this current age range, I would have them vaccinated. The best way to set a good example as a parent is to vaccinate yourself, too.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine will make your child sick.

Fact: Side effects may occur, which means the vaccination is working.

It’s not unusual for children and adults to experience side effects after receiving the vaccination — this does not mean your child has contracted COVID-19. The resulting side effects are proof that your child’s immune system is working and preparing to fight off the COVID-19 virus if the child happens to come into contact with it.

Side effects are typically more frequent after the second dose, lasting for about 24 hours. According to the CDC, common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine for children and adults include:

  • Injection site pain
  • Fatigue (Tiredness)
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea

Myth: Children don’t typically get as sick from COVID-19.

Fact: Children can get sick from COVID-19 and spread the virus.

Although children don’t typically show as many severe symptoms of COVID-19, they can still get infected and pass it on to others. As a result of infection, some children are more likely to suffer from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

Many people, including children, will carry and spread the virus without knowing they were infected. Because the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still unknown, the best defense is vaccination.

Myth: If your child has had COVID-19, they don’t need the vaccine.

Fact: Children ages 12 and up should still get vaccinated.

Studies have shown that immunity from infection does not last long in some people, so the COVID-19 vaccine provides increased immunity for children and adults

The Bottom Line — Should Your Child, Age 12 and Up, Get Vaccinated?

Yes! The COVID-19 vaccine is both safe and effective; it helps prevent the spread of the virus and hospitalizations.

Up until recently, it was recommended to give the COVID-19 vaccine without any other vaccine for at least 14 days, both before and after. This was out of an abundance of caution. Due to substantial safety data, COVID-19 and other vaccines may now be given at the same time without concern for the 14-day window.

If you are still curious about the COVID-19 vaccine and the approval for children, ages 12 and up, speak with your child’s primary care provider or schedule an appointment now.

Count on the Greater Des Moines Partnership for economic recovery information and business and industry recommendations as the region moves forward from the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about current impacts and future trends from the DSM Forward playbooks here.

Dr. Stephen Rinderknecht, DO

Dr. Stephen Rinderknecht is a pediatrician at UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics - Waukee and head of the UnityPoint Clinic vaccine committee.