As we head into summer, there’s great news on the COVID-19 horizon: cases across the country have steadily and significantly declined! However, this does not mean the pandemic is over. Rather, we are now entering the next phase of the vaccine initiative, which focuses on adolescents and children. Understandably, this has caused a lot of questions from worried parents to pop up, including one in particular: Do children really need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when a shot is available?
The answer from the overwhelming majority of medical experts—a resounding “Yes!”
Kids and COVID-19
Although serious disease in children from COVID-19 is rare—and cases are at their lowest point since October—vaccinating young people is a good idea for two key reasons.
One, if the United States has any hope of reaching herd immunity, it will not be achieved without adding children and adolescents to the vaccinated part of the population. Why? Because we now know that many adults simply won’t get vaccinated. In fact, currently there are only 12 states where at least 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.1
The second, and more concerning reason, is a new CDC study that shows COVID-19 hospitalizations rates among adolescents have increased during March to April of this year. And while the disease is more likely to be severe in adults, children can also become severely ill from COVID-19, which is now among the top causes of child deaths. In addition to the physical health concerns, we have already seen how COVID-19 can negatively impact childrens’ mental health. For example, current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines call for unvaccinated children and adolescents exposed to COVID-19 to stay home from school or camp for two weeks, which can be very socially disruptive.
Getting your child vaccinated
The wait for parents to get their child vaccinated is shrinking by the day. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has already authorized the Pfizer vaccine for those 12 and older, and Moderna and Pfizer are already conducting tests of their vaccines in people aged 6 months to 11 years. Johnson & Johnson is currently testing its single-dose vaccine in people ages 12 to 17.
And there is cautious optimism that some younger than 12 will be able to get vaccinated by Thanksgiving with children of all ages eligible by the end of the year.
Grown-up COVID-19 vaccinations
Despite the new focus on getting children and adolescents vaccinated, it remains critical that adults continue to get vaccinated, as well. In fact, when adults get vaccinated, it can directly protect younger people. Studies show that children are rarely the source of COVID-19 infection, and instead usually catch it from exposure to an infected adult.
Want to help prevent the spread of COVID-19? Get yourself and your child vaccinated as soon as possible. Not sure where to get vaccinated or learn about the vaccine? Your local community pharmacist can be a great resource! Just check out our directory to see if COVID-19 vaccinations – and many other services that can help keep you and your community healthy – are offered at your local pharmacy.