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Vaccines Now Available for Children Over 12

Submitted by Dr. John Maddox, Pediatrician, Pentucket Medical/Haverhill

It is exciting news that children ages 12 and older are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine!

We know that the Pfizer vaccine is effective and safe for ages 16 and older. The vaccine generates even more antibodies for the younger patients, which translates to stronger immune protection. The vaccine was given to over 1000 patients, ages 12-15, and they were compared to 1000 patients who were not vaccinated. In the weeks following full vaccination, 18 of those not vaccinated came down with COVID. Zero of the vaccinated individuals developed COVID. So the early results show 100% effectiveness in protection.

The side effects are no more frequent and no more severe for this age group. The list is now familiar: sore arm, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain; lasting 1-3 days and more common after the 2nd dose. The Pfizer vaccine is one of the vaccines that must be kept extra cold to maintain full strength. So, a person experiencing those mild side effects can rest assured that the vaccine was kept cold and that the immune system is working properly!

While there have been some concerns about certain vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine has not demonstrated a serious health risk in the many millions of doses given, dating back to research trials last summer.

There is a lot of false information swirling around the internet and social media. Rumors that the COVID vaccine can affect infertility, that the vaccine contains some tracking device, that the vaccine can change your DNA. The Pfizer vaccine does not linger in your body’s cells long enough to do any of this. Within 48 hours of the vaccine, you can’t find any trace of it. The vaccine lasts long enough to prompt your immune system to do what it does every day — protect you. The vaccine simply gives your body a photocopy of the COVID virus — like a wanted criminal — so your immune system can jump into action, if you are exposed to COVID at a future date.

Children generally have milder COVID symptoms than adults, but this important step of vaccinating more humans reduces new people that COVID can infect. This stops the development of new mutations and gets us closer to those happier days of less masks and closer distance.