Portrait of african american multigenerational family looking at camera while sitting on sofa couch at home. Family and lifestyle concept.

By Dena Vang

Children ages 12 to 15 are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, prioritizing equity and reducing access barriers that disproportionately affect people of color and those of low income will be particularly important in reaching adolescents, given the diversity of this population and that Black and Hispanic people have faced gaps in vaccinations so far. In a recent webinar hosted by the Black Coalition Against COVID-19 (BCAC), multicultural doctors and families addressed how the road back to normalcy may be determined by vaccine decisions.

“We now have a vaccine for adolescents for ages 12 and up, which is a big deal,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy. “Our children, even if they’re not sick, can unintentionally carry the infection to other people. The more people who are vaccinated, including kids, the fewer places the virus has to hide, and that means more people in our community will be protected.”

COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in US history. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now available for everyone ages 12 years and older. In the clinical trial for children 12 through 15 years old, no safety concerns were identified with that vaccine. The clinical trial also showed that the vaccine was 100 percent effective for preventing COVID-19 with symptoms in children 12 through 15 years old. In addition, children’s immune systems have responded to the vaccine in a way that’s similar to older teens and young adults. To get the most protection, your child needs two shots given three weeks (21 days) apart.

“We know that when our kids are vaccinated, they can finally get back together with friends again, all the slumber parties, birthday parties, field trips, and other get-togethers that our children missed out on over the last year. It’s so important to their health, their learning, and their well-being,” said Murthy. “Those are now within reach again if our kids get vaccinated. That’s why in my estimation the vaccines are worth it for adolescents to take. Most importantly, the trials have demonstrated that the vaccines are both effective and very safe in children.”

To find a COVID-19 vaccine for your child:

· Check your local pharmacy’s website to see if vaccination walk-ins or appointments are available.

· Check with your child’s healthcare provider about whether they offer COVID-19 vaccinations.

· Contact your state or local health department for more information. · Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

To prepare your child for their vaccination, the CDC recommends the following:

· Review information about the vaccine, and write down any questions you may have. · Talk to your child before the visit about what to expect.

· Tell the doctor or nurse about any allergies your child may have.

· Comfort your child during the appointment.

· To prevent fainting and injuries related to fainting, your child should be seated or lying down during the vaccination and for 15 minutes after the vaccine is given.

· After your child’s COVID-19 vaccination, you will be asked to stay for 15 to 30 minutes so your child can be observed in case they have a severe allergic reaction and need immediate treatment.

Possible side effects

Children may have some side effects like those experienced by people 16 and older, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. These side effects may affect your child’s ability to do daily activities but should go away in a few days. Side effects after the second shot may be more intense than after the first shot. Some people have no side effects. Common side effects include the following:

· Pain, redness, or swelling on the arm where the shot was given

· Tiredness

· Headache

· Muscle pain

· Chills

· Fever

· Nausea

Free of charge

The federal government is providing COVID-19 vaccines free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status. COVID-19 vaccination providers cannot do the following:

· Charge you for the vaccine

· Charge you for any administration fees, copays, or coinsurance

· Deny vaccination to anyone who does not have health insurance coverage, is underinsured, or is out of network

· Charge for an office visit or other fee if the only service provided is a COVID-19 vaccination

· Require additional services in order for a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, or visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. To watch the BCAC live stream event in its entirety, visit the BlackDoctor.org YouTube Channel.

Dena Vang is the Public Relations Manager at Creative Marketing Resources, a strategic marketing agency in Milwaukee and a partner of the BCAC

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