Physician to parents: Get your tweens and early teens vaccinated against Covid-19

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Despite encouragement from political and public health leaders, many Utah parents remain hesitant to get their 12 to 15-year-olds vaccinated against Covid-19 as they consider the benefits and the risks.

12-year-old Corrinne Hendricks got the Pfizer shot Saturday in Ogden.

“The hardest part was the anticipation of the shot,” she tells ABC4 News. “And then the easiest part was just closing my eyes and letting them do it.”

Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and director of epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, says there are a number of reasons to get your tweens and early teens immunized.

“We often talk about how children are at lower risk of severe disease, but low doesn’t mean no risk,” Dr. Pavia says. “We’ve had, you know, well over 400 children hospitalized in Utah. We think we’ve had two deaths. Nationally, more than 300 kids have died…Probably what’s more important if you ask your child is what they don’t want is to get long Covid. They don’t want to be fatigued and failing out of their classes and unable to compete in their sports for several months…These annoying but life-changing side effects are a big deal.”

Of course, the vaccine can cause some side effects as well, including arm pain, fatigue, and rashes plus “Muscle aches, joint aches, fever are sometimes side effects,” Dr.Pavia says. “Headaches can occur and these can be enough that for a half a day or a day, you don’t do your normal activities.” 

Dr. Pavia emphasizes that these vaccine effects are minor and short-lived.

“We know that whatever could happen in terms of the risks of the vaccine, the risk of getting the virus is so much higher and the risk of having complications from the virus is so much higher,” he says. “By being vaccinated, they protect people around them. They help bring the pandemic to an end. They protect their circle of friends, some of whom may be at high risk of disease, their relatives, their grandparents, and their community.”

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Dr. Pavia says clinical trials show the Pfizer vaccine is about 95% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid in the 12 to 15 age range and 100% effective in preventing hospitalization from the virus.

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