Vaccinating younger teens and discussing concerns


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Young teenagers could soon get the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently only people sixteen years and older can get the vaccine, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15 year old’s in the coming days.

According to the South Dakota Department of Health’s website, more than 14,500 children in the 10-19 years-old age group have tested positive for COVID-19 in South Dakota since the beginning of the pandemic.

Pediatricians at Sanford Health and Avera Medical Group say getting that younger teenage population vaccinated will help us in reaching herd immunity.

Though most kids who test positive for COVID-19 have mild symptoms, doctors say some do have prolonged issues. They also can transmit it to others.

“If we can get middle schoolers, high schoolers, vaccinated against the disease, it just kind of takes another vector away from where the virus can be found,” Dr. Rick Kooima, pediatrician with Avera Medical Group, said.

Both Dr. Rick Kooima with Avera Medical Group and Dr. Santiago Lopez with Sanford Health have heard concerns from parents. One of them being whether or not the vaccine can cause infertility.

“That’s been shown not to be the case and I would certainly recommend both men and women, boys and girls to get the vaccine. I don’t think there’s evidence out there that supports that there’s any concern with that,” Kooima said.

Lopez says the technology behind the Pfizer vaccine has been around for many years.

“The science is really sound and clearly, after millions and millions of doses around the globe and in the United States, we haven’t had any signal of any really serious, adverse effects of the vaccine. So clearly the vaccines are safe for the population,” Lopez said.

Lopez says he listens to his patients and their parents and does what he can to try and reassure them.

“I don’t just dump data to them, I actually say, I actually had the same question myself and then I looked it up and this is what I found. And I took my decision of getting the vaccine and suggestion to my wife to receive the vaccine, to all my family to receive the vaccine,” Lopez said.

Lopez encourages anyone who has questions to talk to their doctor. He says a lot of research has gone into making sure the vaccine is safe for the country’s younger teenagers.

“So basically, the conclusion of the analysis, the vaccine was 100-percent efficacious on preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease in this cohort so far,” Lopez said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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