At Arkansas Children's, we champion teens and their health. Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available to teens in Arkansas 12 years and older, we know parents and caregivers might have some questions. Dr. Jessica Snowden, chief of pediatric infectious disease at Arkansas Children’s was interviewed by KATV and addressed questions and concerns about the safety of the vaccine for the youth population.
Dr. Snowden has seen firsthand just how horrific COVID-19 can be in kids. She is encouraging all eligible teens in Arkansas to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
"Teenagers in particular tend to act more like adults, as opposed to younger kids," she said. "So they can get more severe disease. They work in our grocery stores, they work in our restaurants, they work out in the public and interact with a lot of people and are definitely at risk for getting the COVID-19 infection."
Did the COVID-19 vaccine go through similar trials like the vaccine for adults? Dr. Snowden: Yes. the vaccines go through intense trials before they're approved to ensure safety and efficacy. They're tested on thousands of people from various age groups, racial backgrounds and ethnicities from all over the nation before going through even more scrutiny from experts at the FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What are the side effects in teens who get the vaccine? The side effects found in kids are the same as the mostly mild reactions experienced by adults. A major concern of parents and women in their child-bearing years is based on rumors that the vaccine can cause. There is no evidence of any impact on future fertility or on pregnancy.
Will the vaccine be available for kids younger than 12? Yes, currently, the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine is the only vaccine approved for kids 12 and older. The company reports 100 percent efficacy in children in that age group.
Although younger children tend to bounce back from the virus, Snowden highly recommends that children from 12 to 15 years old get the vaccine.
In summary, according to Dr. Snowden, the vaccine is just as effective in 12-year-olds as it is in adults. She encourages anyone with concerns to talk to their physicians or providers, or reach out to the experts at Arkansas Children's.