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Let's get vaxxed to normal as more COVID vaccine opportunities arise

Let's get vaxxed to normal as more COVID vaccine opportunities arise

May. 12, 2022

By Mary Wade Burnside

To hear it described by Dr. Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, one-third of the country’s parents of 12-to-15-year-olds are jumping with excitement at the prospect of being able to get their children vaccinated for COVID-19.

And then another third has some questions about it, Goza said during an interview Tuesday on the National Public Radio program “All Things Considered.”

“Children deserve to have the protection of this vaccine,” she said in the piece. “This is just — it's wonderful news. We've had over 3.7 million children infected with COVID, and they do — they can get sick from this. And so it is our job as parents and pediatricians and people in our country to make sure our children are protected and taken care of during this.”

On Monday, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for children ages 12 to 15 to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This opens up a new group to inoculate against the virus, which is an important step as the country moves to achieve herd immunity and halt the pandemic.

While some members of this age group might not have symptoms if they catch COVID-19, they can pass it on to others.

And while the number is few, this is the age group that can develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, which, as the name suggests, causes inflammation of different body organs.

COVID-19 prevention is recommended as the best way to keep your child safe from this illness.

Those who do have questions about the COVID vaccine can discuss it with their child’s pediatrician; read up on the vaccine in a variety of forums, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website; and also consult the FDA’s information about the testing of this cohort.

And they can also witness how COVID rates in older groups already eligible for vaccines have dropped.

“All of the COVID that we’re seeing in schools, it is primarily in middle schools and elementary schools,” said Susan Haslebacher, supervisor of school health for Monongalia County Schools.

Haslebacher noted that about three-fourths of the school system’s employees are vaccinated, as are a good number of high schoolers, to the point where she’s not seeing daily flags on symptoms anymore.

“That data is telling me the vaccine is working,” she said.

She’s also pleased that 1,500 middle schoolers have been signed up to receive COVID-19 vaccines through the school system. They will be administered next week.

All of those slots are filled, and she would like anyone who registered to go ahead and get their vaccine through the schools.

“We have set aside a dose for them,” she noted.

For those who didn’t register through the school system, parents can make an appointment to get the first dose of Pfizer as early as Friday at the Greater Monongalia County COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic at Vaccine.WVUMedicine.org or by calling 833-795-SHOT.

This age group must be accompanied to the vaccine clinic, held at the old Sears store at Morgantown Mall, by a parent, guardian or adult. Because many middle schoolers don’t have state-issued ID, someone must be available to consent to the vaccine and vouch for contact information so the child can be reached for a second dose appointment about three weeks later.

According to the CDC, more than 259 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given in the United States from December 14, 2020 through May 10. The CDC also notes that the “vaccines have undergone and will continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”

Although the vaccines were developed quickly, the messenger RNA technology used for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has been around for more than 10 years.

And after a year of missing out on in-person school, play dates with friends and other activities, kids, like everyone else, are ready to return to normal life.

“I want my younger children to get the vaccine too,” said one mother whose older children have been vaccinated. “We want the pandemic to be over, and this will help.”

After reading up on the vaccine, she felt assured that the vaccine would be just as safe for children 12 to 15 as for older people, with the same chance of minor side effects, such as soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle and joint pain.

“I’m eager to make sure my kids won’t suffer more serious side effects if they were to get COVID,” she added.

And, just like some parents are enthusiastic about this opportunity, so are some of the newly-eligible kids who are planning to line up for a jab.

“He wants to be safe,” one dad said about his teen son. “And he knows everyone else in the house has received the vaccine and has been fine thus far.

​“And this will allow him to go to high school with a clear head.”

Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.

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