Experts encourage parents to vaccinate children for COVID-19: ‘Your greater risk is not choosing the vaccine’

Coronavirus

Registered Nurse Morgan James loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021. – (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — Another 17 million people in the United States are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel voted Wednesday to back the use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children age 12 to 15.

“With the exciting news from Pfizer, it’s hopefully going to help curb the pandemic,” said Melissa McMasters, an infectious disease specialist with Marion County Health Department.

It’s an important milestone in reaching herd immunity. 

“A lot of times adolescence and kids have the infection, but they don’t show any symptoms, so that means they are really efficient at spreading the virus,” McMasters said.

“By protecting the younger population against COVID, we also protect the older population,” said Dr. Robin Ledyard, chief medical officer for Community Health Network.

So are vaccine clinics equipped to immunize this new age group?

“There are plenty of vaccines in the Hoosier State and across the country,” Dr. Ledyard said. “The problem is trying to address the folks who are reluctant or hesitant about the safety.”

“One of the conversations I’ve had with parents is people think choosing the vaccine is a risk,” McMasters said. “Really in a pandemic, your greater risk is not choosing the vaccine and being exposed to a new, emerging virus.”

Experts say parents need to consider the timing of when to vaccinate their child. 

“As they get closer to going back to school, there are vaccines that are recommended for school, and there has to be some spacing between,” McMasters said.

“There is nothing but hope,” Dr. Ledyard said. “This isn’t about me, this isn’t about you, but about how we work together.”

The Pfizer vaccine will be available for ages 12 to 15 starting 8 a.m. Thursday by parent or guardian appointment at OurShot.In.Gov.

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