HEALTH U: Pfizer COVID vaccine now approved for 12-15 year olds, LMC doctor weighs in
CHAPIN, S.C. (WIS) - The Pfizer vaccine is now approved for kids 12+ after clinical trials showed it to be 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 for that age group.
After a year of shutdowns, virtual school, and missing out on their social lives, health experts with Lexington Medical Center told WIS that getting kids vaccinated is not only a critical tool for reaching herd immunity for our community, but also for supporting their mental health.
In an effort to encourage more younger people to get vaccinated, we tagged along with two twin brothers as they got their first doses at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia.
RELATED STORY | Children 12 and older can start getting Pfizer vaccine in SC
We first sat down with Kasey Sipe, who told our photographer he was a little nervous. But he was quick to tell us he wasn’t quite as nervous as his brother, Daiton.
“He doesn’t really like shots,” Kasey said. “He’s more nervous about shots than I am.”
But Daiton, whether he truly felt it or not, put on a brave face.
“We can show that it’s not that bad so more people our age can get it,” Daiton said.
Their Mom, Lisa Sipe, said it’s the beginning of the return to normal for her boys.
“For them to feel better and more normal and to be able to be around their friends, the safest option is to get vaccinated,” Lisa said.
Over at Chapin Family Practice, Dr. Candace Prince says parents she sees are concerned about what this past year has done for their kids’ mental health.
“We need to get through this for their mental health purposes,” Dr. Prince said. “And to do that, the vaccine is how we get there.
Even though kids have a much lower risk of getting severely ill and winding up in the hospital with COVID-19, Dr. Prince reminds us that their risk isn’t zero.
“There have been severe infections in kids with COVID-19,” Dr. Prince said. “I don’t want my kids to get that. It’s the same with the flu vaccine, you know. Flu deaths and serious illnesses. We want to prevent as much of that as possible.”
There have been documented cases of a rare side effect of COVID-19 in kids.. known as MIS-C or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. It’s a rare, dangerous inflammatory disease, according to SCDHEC, and has affected 116 kids in South Carolina. But it’s a secondary issue of the disease itself, not the vaccine.
Meanwhile, health officials are eyeing another rare trend. Myocarditis – or inflammation of the heart – has been reported in a handful of kids who received the vaccine. While the CDC is currently investigating the possibility of a link, Dr. Prince warns that just because the kids had the vaccine and developed myocarditis, does not necessarily mean the vaccine caused it. She warns against misinformation and reminds you to make sure your information is coming from a reputable source.
“You have to know the numbers in the regular community as well as the numbers in these vaccine arms because a bunch of people are getting vaccinated, day to day life still happens… normal disease process still happens,” Dr. Prince said. “So you can’t blame everything on a vaccine when it’s just a normal coincidental situation.”
According to DHEC, roughly 75,000 12 through 19 year olds have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine as of Thursday, June 3rd. That’s out of almost 2 million South Carolinians who have received one dose as of the same date. Dr. Prince said getting this group vaccinated will be a big factor in reaching herd immunity.
For the Sipe boys, it is a sign of what their next school year might hold: more normalcy.
“It’ll be important because then we can get back to normal life so everybody can enjoy what they used to enjoy,” Daiton said.
According to Dr. Prince, if you’re taking your kid to get vaccinated, expect similar side effects like a sore arm, pain at the injection site, fatigue, and low-grade fever in the 24-48 hours after the shot.
To find where your child can get a vaccine, visit https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov.
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