What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines for teens
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for everyone, it’s been an especially hard time for teens. A pandemic is stressful enough. Throw in months of virtual learning, trying to balance school and work, being stuck at home and isolated from friends, and sports and social activities getting canceled, and it’s no wonder so many teenagers are struggling right now.
The good news is that as more and more people get the COVID-19 vaccine, things are starting to look up. The end of the pandemic is in sight. And certain teenagers who are 16 or 17 can get the Pfizer vaccine right now. That includes those with high-risk health conditions and some essential workers.
And, as of April 15th, every Californian aged 16 and older will become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Of course, as the vaccines have arrived, so have a lot of questions. And if you’re a teenager or the parent of a teenager, you probably have a few. As more clinical trials take place that include pre-teens and teenagers age 12 to 17, we’ll have more useful data and information.
But here’s what we know right now.
- We know that most people under 18 who get COVID-19 experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that people ages 0 to 17 make up about 11.5% of COVID-19 cases, and less than 1 percent (0.2%) of deaths.
- We also know that teens with underlying conditions are still at risk. And that anyone who works in an essential job has a higher risk of exposure.
- Also, most kids who do get COVID-19 won’t experience severe illness; however, they may still be able to pass it on to their parents or grandparents.
Those are all good reasons why teenagers who are eligible right now should get vaccinated. Especially if they live in a multi-generational household, or if they want to return to their school’s campus and/or student housing.
It’s helpful to plan ahead
Just like with any vaccine or health concerns, it’s a good idea to speak with your pediatrician and develop a plan. Ask your pediatrician, your go-to expert for everything vaccine, all of your questions no matter how big or small. It’s normal to have concerns and your doctor can walk you through them.
If you’re a teenager going to your doctor alone, you might be a little nervous to talk about all of your concerns. But there’s no need to be. Your doctor wants to help you feel confident and safe. And there aren’t any questions they haven’t heard before.
Here are just a few things you might want to ask:
- Is it safe for me to get the vaccine?
- Does the vaccine have any side effects?
- What should I watch for after I get vaccinated? When should I call you if I’m concerned?
- I have a medical condition and/or allergies. Can I still get the vaccine? Is it better to wait?
- Is there one vaccine that is better than others to get?
Right now, only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for teens 16 and older. The other ones haven’t been authorized for teenagers by the FDA because the clinical trials didn’t have enough volunteers who were that age. More clinical trials are being conducted right now to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the other vaccines for teenagers. Consent from a parent or legal guardian is required.
You may be wondering if getting vaccinated will be required for in-person school or extracurricular activities. Right now it is not. If you have more questions about that, check with your school or school district.
Information about the pandemic and the vaccines is always evolving. If you want to talk to someone who is up on all of the latest news, start with your doctor. You can also find the latest information through trusted sources like the CDC, the California Department of Public Health, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. This can help everyone feel better about the decision to get vaccinated, especially if they’re eligible.
Anyone who’s employed should ask about their job’s time-off policies for getting vaccinated, as well as for time off that may need to be taken if the side effects from the shot require rest.
Blue Shield will also continue to keep you updated. Check back here. We’ll have updates as soon as more data and news is available.
Important things to know as you think about getting the vaccine
- The vaccine is free. You do not need health insurance to get it.
- Everyone can get the vaccine. Your immigration status does not matter.
- Find out if it’s your turn to get the vaccine at My Turn. If you are eligible, you can schedule your appointment there. If you are not eligible yet, you can sign up to be notified when you are.
- Don’t have internet access or a mobile phone? Call (833) 422-4255 to schedule an appointment.
Even after you are vaccinated, it is important to continue to protect yourself and others. This means you should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing. This will help keep everyone safe as we wait for more Californians to get the vaccine.
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