By Pamela Simms-Mackey, MD, FAAP
Yes. If your teen or child is healthy but has not had their COVID vaccine, don't wait.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5 and older. A booster dose is also strongly encouraged for ages 12 and up who got two doses of the mRNA COVID vaccine at least five months ago.
More than 60% of kids ages 12-17 and at least 25% of kids ages 5-11 in the U.S. have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Younger children still are not eligible for the vaccine.
We can protect one another
The vaccine does more than prevent serious illness in healthy kids. When everyone is vaccinated, they are less likely to get very sick and
need hospital care.
The highly contagious virus can be passed to a young child, then to a grandparent, who may be at higher risk of serious illness or death from a COVID-19 infection.
We can stay healthy
Many people think that side effects from a vaccine are not supposed to happen. In fact, side effects are expected. Vaccine-anticipated reactions are a good sign that the body is reacting to the vaccine and that it is working to develop immunity to the virus.
Children and teens are more at risk of
serious side effects from the virus than from the vaccine. And we know that kids who get COVID can have
long-COVID illness and other ongoing problems.
Trust your pediatrician
The vaccines are safe, and they are the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. Your pediatrician can answer all your questions about the vaccine and the virus that causes COVID. Your pediatrician knows your child and family and will provide facts about the vaccine for children.
About the author
Pamela Simms-Mackey, MD, FAAP, is chair of Pediatrics and Chief of Graduate Medical Education at Alameda Health System in California. She has dedicated her career to reducing health disparities among underserved populations.