Push for pre-teens, teenagers to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Experts say pre-teens and teenagers getting vaccinated will dramatically help in the fight to stop the spread
Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 7:10 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KEYC) — COVID-19 vaccines have been available to anyone 16 years and older for about three weeks.

The next step is including younger teens, and many parents have concerns about safety.

An increase in COVID-19 cases is prompting an even bigger push for all eligible Americans to get vaccinated.

“We are really in a race against variants and what we are seeing is a race to try and vaccinate as many people in our communities as possible. Before the variants really take over and spread rapidly,” said Nipunie Rajapakse M.D., M.P.H, pediatric infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center.

The new B-117 variant of the virus, first identified in the U.K., is popping up at an increasing rate across the U.S.

Part of why medical experts are pushing for vaccine approval for children ages 12-15, as trials are underway.

“The initial data that they have shared publicly looks really promising and really exciting. So, that trial showed that the vaccine was very protected, so 100% protective against systematic disease in teenagers. They generated a very strong and robust antibody response to the vaccine,” Rajapakse added.

Experts say pre-teens and teenagers getting vaccinated will dramatically help in the fight to stop the spread.

“The hope of achieving her immunity is coming even closer. It is so important to get those kids vaccinated to get there. Twenty percent of the U.S. population being children, needing roughly 75% roughly to get to that herd immunity. Kids are going to be the key,” explained Joseph Poterucha, D.O., pediatric critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

In addition to slowing the spread and returning to normal life, Mayo Clinic experts want the public to know that the vaccine can also combat the lingering side effects of coronavirus, like an unusual return to smell or taste, and fatigue.

“That vaccine is the armor to protect against COVID infections, long hauler symptoms and these unknowns. Really, I just look with hope and awe that a return to normalcy for our kids,” Poterucha said.

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