Why doctors say it’s safe and necessary to vaccinate your teenage kids

SPOKANE, Wash.–You may feel confident enough to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but when it comes to your kids, there’s some understandable hesitation because of how these vaccines are.

The Pfizer vaccine is the only one available for kids 16 and older; the other two are being tested among kids.

When they get the shot, they’ll likely feel the same side effects as you, and their immune system may even have an advantage.

“They tend to have a more robust immune system already, because they’re typically rolling around in those germ factories that we call schools,” Pediatrician Dr. Katheryn Hudon said. “They have a lot of their t-cell immunity that’s already primed, their b-cell immunity that’s already primed.”

Dr. Hudon of Providence Health said older teenagers are more likely to spread the virus than younger kids, and it may feel like a severe case of the flu for them.

“Their rates of death for covid are about 0.08 percent,” Dr. Hudon said. “That’s about on par with influenza, so it’s really reasonable to consider getting the vaccine for your kid.”

Pfizer is testing its vaccine on kids as young as two years old.

“I haven’t seen the data that proves to me why those younger kids should get the vaccine,” Dr. Hudon said. “Obviously it’s not approved yet, and once those trials come out with their data, we’ll have to look at that very carefully.”

We also know college kids need the vaccine, especially because of how much they’re spreading the virus right now.

People younger than 30 account for 51 percent of Spokane County’s cases in the last two weeks, and kids 10-19 make up 16% of those cases.

041621 Cases By Age Full

Some nearby colleges are playing a role in that as 220 cases have been reported at Gonzaga this month along with another 95 at Washington State University.

041621 College Cases Full

It’s not easy to get these kids to stop gathering, and that’s why Gonzaga and WSU are setting up vaccine clinics on or near campus next week to try and outrace infections.

“They are going to do whatever it takes to engage with each other so they can salvage some component of their mental well being, so if they’re gonna do that, let’s make it safe and easy by getting them vaccinated,” Dr. Hudon said.