CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pfizer's COVID-19 shot is now cleared for emergency use in kids ages 12 to 15. On Wednesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, accepted the recommendation of an independent advisory panel to administer the vaccine to adolescents.
Both state health agencies in the Carolinas have already passed along the newly released vaccination guidance to vaccine providers, and many are poised to begin serving the new age group Thursday.
Still, many parents have questions about whether their child should receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and in order to reach an informed decision, doctors say it's important to break through some of the misinformation surrounding the shot.
"Kids don't need the COVID-19 vaccine because they aren't at high risk from the virus."
While it is generally true that younger people are not as at-risk of complications as those from older age groups, the CDC reports that kids can still be hospitalized; some suffer from MIS-C, a dangerous multisystem inflammatory syndrome; and some have died.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director with South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, said all age groups are needed to bring the pandemic to an end.
"It's important now more than ever that young people get vaccinated to not only protect themselves but also those around them," Traxler said.
"The vaccines were developed too quickly. So, the safety of them is unknown."
Doctors say the COVID-19 vaccines were built on a foundation of years of research and adjusted, as needed, to target the COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Michael Smith, a pediatrician and medical director of the Duke Children's Health Center Infectious Diseases Clinic, said he is confident in the safety. Smith is also a study investigator involved in the pediatric trials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
"The vaccines are safe. I have no doubts about that. I wish my children were old enough to get this vaccine. I would definitely vaccinate them," Smith said.
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