Many of you (like myself) have kids/adolescents between the ages of 12-18. My first-born girl turned 13 over the weekend (happy birthday!). She is fully vaccinated and I hope this post will help you, as parents, see the strong protection vaccines give against COVID-19 for our kids.
I also want to stress the importance of not messing with long-COVID symptoms for you or your kiddos. If you suffer from long COVID, you know it can be extremely debilitating, frustrating, and scary. If you are a parent with a child who has long COVID, that frustration and fear are likely doubly hard.
At the end of this post, I also talk about the common misconceptions about vaccine side effects and worries about fertility for adolescents with vaccines.
Adolescents, sadly, can suffer from severe COVID-19 - including hospitalizations - and long COVID symptoms.
Let me show you the data:
In September 2021, hospitalizations for children (particularly among 12-18 year olds) were at the highest level they had been in the pandemic. I want to emphasize that this was REALLY seen among adolescents. Hospitalizations among unvaccinated adolescents were 10 times higher than fully vaccinated adolescents.
Long COVID among adolescents and children. There’s also a misconception that children/adolescents just “get over” COVID-19 - like they usually do for colds. That’s not the case though. Long COVID-19 can affect children and adolescents too. In the below study, children/adolescents are shown in the blue dots and bars. Look at the long COVID-19 symptoms for kids/adolescents.
An estimated 1 in 7 children/adolescents suffers from long COVID-19 symptoms. That is NOT a cold where the majority of kids get over just fine - with no lingering effects.
Long COVID symptoms included mental health, ENT, nephrological, overall physical health, vascular/coagulation (heart), pulmonary ranks the highest among children/adolescents. Ugh.
Although these long COVID-19 symptoms are not are common as they are in adults, they are still way too common. In other words, this is not just a simple cold for some kids that they simply get over.
1 in 7 do not bounce back quickly.
Frankly, we don’t know what long COVID looks like for adults or children/adolescents. Time will show us all of that. I don’t want to gamble on long COVID for anybody though when we have highly effective and protective vaccines for 12+ (soon to be for 5+ ages).
And, here’s what happens when we don’t vaccinate adolescents. COVID surges among teenagers and then spreads to older populations/family members.
A follow-up study found that vaccination with Pfizer’s 2-dose regimen among adolescent was 93% effective against severe disease.
NONE of the vaccinated adolescents were admitted to the ICU, needed ventilator support, or life support. 77 unvaccinated adolescents needed ICU admission, including 29 on life support and 2 deaths. It also didn’t matter whether or not the adolescents were in school or not, had underlying conditions or not, and were at the younger ages (12-13 years). What did matter were vaccinations.
A final note about side effects and fertility concerns
To date, over 15 million 12-18 year olds have been vaccinated. I know, as a parent, the news can “look” scary with reports of side effects. However, these are extremely rare. Our gal-pal-Your-Local-Epidemiologist did a great write-up about that here.
The BIGGEST question I get about adolescents and vaccines and fertility. There’s no evidence that vaccines affect fertility, including among adolescents going through puberty. I also want to mention the myth that vaccines affect fertility. The myth about vaccines and fertility has been used for years to scare people away from vaccines. The mRNA technology signals your body to produce a defense mechanism against COVID-19. But, the myth circulating is that the same proteins for the virus is the same proteins in the placenta and that the body will be confused - that's not true. The myth is that your body will attack the placenta (and, then fertility) if you get the vaccine. Our bodies are smarter than that though. The placenta and COVID-19 do have similarities BUT they need LOTS more than that for the body to be confused. It's like saying my house looks the same as my neighbors - but, the insides look totally different. That matters when it comes to our bodies and our bodies know the difference. Well done, immune systems! COVID-19 and the placenta spike proteins may look similar, but not similar enough (at all) for the body to cause infertility because you get a vaccine. I also want to point out that there are risks to your reproductive health (men and women) if you get COVID-19 (like low sperm counts). So, the reproductive risks are higher with the real COVID infection than the vaccine. If you want to delve more into this, I would suggest this website.
I hope this helps encourage you to get your tweens/teens vaccinated. They are the most powerful tools we have to protect our children against COVID, including hospitalization and long COVID.
***As a reminder, I do not read comments or messages on social media. I do read and respond to them here on Substack to paid subscribers. However, I am not able to respond to individual-type questions or offer medical advice. I do my best to respond in a timely manner here on Substack and I appreciate your understanding if it takes me a few days or I miss a few comments from previous posts. As always, thank you for your comments and community!