The Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday for use in children ages 12 to 15. The vaccine, which had been previously authorized for people 16 and older, is the first COVID vaccine to receive approval for use in younger teens and adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed the plan in a unanimous vote on Wednesday.

Yahoo News Medical Contributor Dr. Kavita Patel explains why parents should consider getting their children 12 and older vaccinated as soon as possible.

Video Transcript

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JOE BIDEN: Monday, after rigorous thorough review, the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, authorized Pfizer vaccine for use in that age category 12 and up. Today, an independent advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, voted to recommended– recommend its use. Now, pending the CDC’s final– final approval later today, we’re going to have for the first time a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents over the 12 years of age.

KAVITA PATEL: There are a couple of important reasons why parents should consider getting their children 12 and above vaccinated as soon as possible. The first one is that these vaccines are as effective as they have been shown to be in adults. So that means almost 100% prevention of death, severe hospitalization, all the things you worry about as a parent and especially as a growing number of new cases are in children.

Because if adults are vaccinated, the virus has nowhere else to go but into kids. So as a growing number of kids are getting infected, an incredibly safe and effective vaccine is the ticket back to normal. So those are two huge reasons– your individual health and then also being able to have your family slowly get back to some sort of normal.

I think there’s always concerns with vaccines about safety. I will say this. Most of the time, when we’re talking about early vaccines, we’ve only had tens of thousands of people get them. This is quite possibly one of the few times where we have had literally hundreds of millions of people getting a vaccine. And we have not seen any of the fatal or concerning or disturbing side effects. And it’s hard to get more evidence than that.

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Probably one of the important points is that while children don’t get infected as severely as adults do, they don’t get hospitalized or die as– in the same rates as older adults, we do not know what the long-term impact of COVID is if you get it now, and 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now, we do find out that there are linkages between other common conditions, which, by the way, we are finding out when things like chicken pox, measles. So any time we see something that could have long-term effects, and we have an actual vaccine that can prevent those almost close to 100%, it is to me a really hard argument against getting vaccinated.

Another important reason to consider having your children vaccinated is that it is very likely that their proof of vaccination will be required for a number of normal activities, possibly even returning to school. Some of that is unclear as we still have an emergency authorization on the vaccine. Pfizer has already submitted for the full biologics licensing application, which we expect them to receive in a matter of months.

So you could imagine a fall semester where there is a requirement. And like we require– some places require a flu shot, proof of hepatitis or measles or meningitis vaccines, this could just be one of a series of things that you need to have. And most importantly, I think until children have vaccinations available to them, there will be a requirement to wear masks. Having a proof of vaccination or being a part of a group that’s vaccinated might be a way to take back some of those restrictions that people are finding pretty restrictive right now.

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