Should my 12 to 15-year-old get vaccinated?

As a pediatrician and mom of three, and together with all of my colleagues here at COVID-101, I strongly recommend vaccinating your 12-to-15-year-old against COVID-19.

The Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective for children aged 12-15.

The Pfizer vaccine is authorized by the FDA for emergency use for ages 12 to 15. As of August 27, 2021, over 7.2 million American teenagers aged 12 to 15 have received at least one COVID vaccine. This vaccine continues to be highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19, including from the Delta variant. In fact, 12-to-15-year-olds have shown an even higher efficacy and antibody response from the vaccine, compared to people ages 16 and older.  Ongoing surveillance continues to show that the vaccine is safe in this age group. 

There is no reason to expect long term side effects.

Some people have asked about possible long-term adverse effects that may take years to surface. Vaccines have been safely, effectively, and widely used for over 100 years, with no evidence of long-term adverse effects. Rare adverse events from vaccine administration usually occur within minutes to two months after the vaccine is given. Though the mRNA technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna  vaccines is newer, it’s been under study for over 10 years. And doctors have no reason to think it will be associated with long-term side effects. We do know, however, that long-term effects from even mild COVID-19 infections are a real concern for many patients, including children

COVID-19 is more common in adolescents than children.

Overall, children are at lower risk from COVID-19 infection than adults. However adolescents ages 12 to 17 are twice as likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than younger children. Since adolescents can have infections with very mild symptoms, they can unknowingly infect family members or other close contacts who are older, at higher risk, or unvaccinated. There are still community members who are immunocompromised because of cancer treatments, treatment for autoimmune diseases, or other conditions, for whom the vaccine may not be as effective. Vaccinating 12-to-15-year-olds reduces their risk and the risk of friends and family.

Furthermore, pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations are higher than they have been at any point so far in the pandemic. It is more important than ever to get your child vaccinated along with the rest of your family.

First posted:  June 4, 2021

Last update: August 28, 2021, 17:00pm ET

Science review: ERS, SGB, JAB