Health group urges students to get vaccinated
Last week’s announcement that the CDC has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 to 15 is an important step towards a goal we all share: getting back to full, “normal” activities too quickly and securely as possible for our entire community.
In Santa Cruz County, the Pediatric Health Task Force – a local group of pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners, public health staff and representatives from the county education office – meets weekly. since the end of 2020 to share strategies on everything related to children and COVID. We actively encourage getting as many people in our community vaccinated against COVID as possible, including children 12 to 18 years old.
We know that students, families and others have many questions about this vaccine and we want to assure community members that we believe the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is safe for adolescents 12 years of age and older. In fact, those of us who have children in this age group have had our own teens vaccinated before. The vaccine is extremely effective. The clinical trial of 2,200 adolescents who volunteered to participate documented 100% protection against COVID in the group that received the vaccine.
It’s true that younger patients with COVID don’t get serious illness as often as adults, but for those who could become very ill or have long-term health consequences from COVID, we now have a sure way to prevent this from happening. We also want to prevent children from passing COVID to anyone – whether that is a classmate or a parent who could not safely receive the vaccine due to an illness under -jacent, or a person who is still sensitive for some other reason.
Like the rest of us, most teens are very keen on going about their lives – going out with friends again, playing sports, returning to in-person classes and socializing. The vaccine allows them to participate in events with other vaccinated adolescents safely and freely.
Vaccinated teens will also be able to avoid some of the disruptions and hassles of unvaccinated life, including long quarantines if exposed to someone with COVID or frequent testing. Additionally, if your child has fallen behind on routine immunizations, we urge you to contact their medical center to get them caught up.
Making a local appointment to get the vaccine (or if you prefer, finding a walk-in clinic) is easy; visit santacruzhealth.org. If you have specific questions about the COVID vaccine in this age group, please contact your pediatric healthcare team. We will always be listening and are ready to work with you to keep your child, family and the community we share as safe and healthy as possible. In the meantime, enjoy your summer on our beautiful central coast.
The Pediatric Health Working Group includes participants from several local health care organizations, the county education office, the county health services agency and includes the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent, Faris Sabbah. For more information about the group, visit hipscc.org/pediatrichealthworkgroup.