SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Vaccine eligibility could change by Wednesday to allow 12-15-year-olds to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and parents will be left to decide whether or not their children will get the shot.

Health officials have said the vaccine for children is safe and effective, but getting it is a decision parents will have to make.

“I realize the idea of getting a COVID vaccine for teenagers may not seem totally comfortable for every parent out there,” says Dr. Andrew Pavia, who works at the University of Utah and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

For parents who have questions or concerns about the safety of the vaccine, Pavia says they should talk to their child’s doctor or pediatrician.

“As a mother, I want to get everything right. I don’t want to make one mistake that my children have to pay the consequences for,” says Dr. Marion Bishop, an emergency medical physician for MountainStar Healthcare.

As a parent herself, Bishop understands how tough it can be to make these decisions.

“As I have made my own decision-making, based on what I’ve seen as a physician, I’d rather err on the side of caution of giving them the vaccine than leaving them to COVID,” she says.

Bishop says when her 12-year-old daughter learned that she may be eligible to get the vaccine by the end of this week, she has since been looking forward to the day she gets the shot.   

“She called me and said, ‘Mom, I’m so excited,’” Bishop says. “It just allows us to begin normalizing life. I’m imagining summer camp for her all of a sudden.”

Bishop encourages parents to do their research on the COVID-19 vaccine, reiterating its safety and effectiveness.

“Having that extra protection to know that a child’s not going to bring the illness home and inadvertently infect someone else is huge,” she says.

Questions are a good thing, Bishop says, and can help parents decide what’s best for their family.

Bishop shares with ABC4 News four questions parents may ask their child’s doctor about the vaccine.

  1. Side effects

“The side effects with this Pfizer vaccine aren’t any different in children than adults,” Bishop says.

2. Efficacy and data

“What do we understand very best, right now, today, about this data?” she says.

3. Children with underlying health conditions

“What would that mean, and would there be any important considerations?” Bishop says.

4. Clearing up misconceptions

“Take those concerns to your pediatrician. A good pediatrician would love to sort through that with you so you can make a decision for your child that you feel good about,” she says.

When deciding whether or not a child should get the COVID-19 vaccine, Bishop also says it’s important to include that child in the decision-making process.

“The talk of getting the vaccine is just a wonderful opportunity to open up all kinds of conversations that I think kids are capable of,” she says.

She also notes teaching kids about COVID-19 is a way to have meaningful conversations and the impacts on the public.

“I think it’s also a great opportunity to talk to kids about what are our obligations as a community?” Bishop says. “Often, we think, ‘How will this benefit me?’ But we can think about, ‘How will this benefit all of us?’”

With children soon to be the next eligible age group to get the vaccine, Bishop says she believes it will help the state become one step closer to reaching herd immunity.