Vaccines against COVID-19 for adolescents, inform yourself and do not be guided by fear

The vaccine could help teens go back to school, participate in sports, school choir, and a number of activities with friends they miss and need.

Photo: ROBYN BECK / .

Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 can already receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech in the United States, and this week the Moderna company announced that its vaccine is “safe and highly effective in young people from the 12 to 17 years ”. Moderna is expected to present the results of its studies to the FDA in early June.

This is definitely very good news for families with teenagers, as this is one more step that facilitates the return to school and brings us closer to controlling the pandemic in this country.

On the other hand, clinical studies in children 6 months to 11 years are ongoing, and experts think that by September this year they will complete the necessary research to approve the use of the Pfizer vaccine in this group.

Of course, we need the vaccine to be available to everyone around the world, not just in the United States. And just as important as availability is that people get vaccinated and vaccinated their children to achieve group immunity or herd immunity and really get the pandemic under control.

In a recent US survey by the company Invisibly, in which 1,258 parents were asked if they planned to vaccinate their teens, 53% said they would eventually vaccinate them, but only 26% said they would do so immediately. This is similar to a previous study conducted by Indiana University, where they found that more than a quarter of parents would not vaccinate their children. The reasons they gave included the dissemination of both correct information and politicized misinformation about possible side effects.

Among undecided parents are those who hope to gather more information and possibly change their minds, as have many adults who were initially undecided about getting the vaccine themselves. But there are also people who have always been against all vaccines or who do so for political reasons instead of basing their decisions on scientific evidence, or who tend to believe statements that are familiar to them, regardless of whether they are true or not. not because they read it on the internet or heard it from the only source they get their information from (instead of listening to the experts).

Some parents’ fears about how quickly the vaccine was made are unfounded since it was based on advances in science for at least a decade; fears about the possibility of the vaccine causing infertility are also not true and are based on misinformation that has spread through social media. The vaccine works through messenger RNA (RNA), and has nothing to do with hormones, genes, and / or fertility.

What We Should Know About the Pfizer Vaccine for Youth Ages 12-15

The vaccine these adolescents will receive is the same as that received by adults. The dose is also the same (two vaccines within three weeks of each other). It is very important that they receive both vaccines so that protection against infection by the COVID-19 virus is achieved, which is almost 100%. Even better than adults.

Something that should help parents to have confidence in the vaccine is the results of clinical trials, the effectiveness of the vaccine, and its safety. In addition, the fact that it has already been received by hundreds of millions of people, including adolescents aged 16 to 18, without major problems.

Clinical study and result

In the clinical study of 2,300 teens ages 12 to 15, half received the vaccines and half received placebo. In those who received the vaccines, no one developed COVID-19, and when they measured the levels of antibodies in their blood, they all formed a high percentage of antibodies against the infection. While six of those who received the placebo instead of the vaccine were infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Side effects

The side effects of the vaccine, when they occurred, were very similar to those seen in adults: pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle aches, and fever. They generally lasted one to three days and were more frequent after the second dose. They were not caused by the virus, since the vaccine does not contain the virus and cannot cause infection. They are due to the response of the immune or immune (defense) system when it is forming the antibodies. However, antibodies can form and not have any side effects.

Side effects to vaccines, when they occur, usually occur in the first few days (usually the first 6 weeks). For safety, the potential side effects of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be monitored but, so far, no other side effects have been reported in the hundreds of millions of people who have received the messenger RNA-based vaccines. the basis of the Pfizer vaccine.

The only contraindication is a history of a severe allergy (anaphylaxis).

Adolescents have suffered greatly from the pandemic. Although they have not been affected as severely by the disease, nor have they required hospitalization as frequently as other groups, it has affected them from the point of view of their social development and mental health. The vaccine could help them go back to school, participate in sports, school choir, and a number of activities with friends they miss and need. Also, if they were exposed to a person with COVID-19, two weeks after completing the second vaccine, they would no longer need the quarantine isolation they need at this time.

Vaccines against COVID-19 are a remarkable scientific achievement that we must, far from fearing, celebrate. It is our best hope to get out of the pandemic. Fortunately, at this time we are privileged in the United States to be able to obtain the vaccine for free, regardless of immigration status and, at this time, including adolescents between 12 and 15 years of age. Let’s not waste it. And let’s hope that very soon vaccines will be distributed in all countries of the world so that all people without exception have the same opportunity.

-Aliza A. Lifshitz, known for her extensive career in the Hispanic media as Dr. Aliza, is the health expert for the educational television network for the Hispanic community HITN. At HITN, she hosts the daily Vida y Salud programming block, a space where she shares information and tools for Hispanics to lead healthier lives and better communicate with their doctors.

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