UVM doctor encourages Vt. parents to get their kids vaccinated against COVID

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT|Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont is one step closer to kids 12-15 getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Wednesday, a panel of CDC advisers signed off on the move. Now, only the CDC director needs to give the OK.

Vermont and New Hampshire are ready. Both states are opening registration on Thursday for 12-to-15-year-olds to get Pfizer shots. But some parents still have concerns.

“I can’t wait until for Vermont’s adolescents to start getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Benjamin Lee, an infectious disease specialist at the UVM Medical Center. “These vaccines are safe and effective.”

Despite doctors’ confidence, some parents are still hesitant.

A recent national study shows only 3 in 10 parents of kids ages 12-15 plan to get the shot as soon as it’s available.

Lee says vaccines are one more step toward normality for parents and kids.

“For the first time, the teens now have a way that they can do something active to take their lives back,” Lee said.

Even though younger people typically don’t suffer from serious cases of COVID, health experts say there are still reasons to get vaccinated like slowing the spread of the disease and preventing what’s commonly known as long-haul COVID with prolonged symptoms.

“Even if that’s not the same as having a child critically ill in the hospital, I think in terms of quality of life, and long-term effects, we are seeing that this is happening with our children,” Dr. Lee said.

Pfizer’s study on younger Americans, which included about 2,200 kids, showed the vaccine was just as effective in 12-to-15-year-olds as it has been in everyone else and side effects after the shot were similar.

“What these studies would look for, number one, is efficacy. How many kids who got vaccinated got COVID-19 compared to those that didn’t? What was astounding, that in the 12-15 age group not a single vaccinated child got COVID during the time period of the study, compared to 18 in the placebo group,” Lee said.

In Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott says the state is prepared as 27,000 young people will soon become eligible. Forty schools across the state are expected to help with vaccinations and nearly 5,000 extra Pfizer shots were ordered for next week.

Lee says the news likely paves the way for even younger people to get the shot soon. Trials are already in progress for those as young as 6 months old.

“I’m optimistic that these results mean that these vaccines will be available at some point in the future to the youngest people, as well,” the doctor said.

Parents can make appointments for kids 12 and older starting Thursday at 8:15 a.m. Pharmacies like CVS are already booking appointments.

Click here for Vermont’s COVID appointment site.

Click here for New Hampshire’s appointment site.

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