With the continued toll that COVID-19 is taking on our community, state, country and world, the pediatricians at The Baton Rouge Clinic, in accordance with the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), encourage those 12 years of age and older to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
The Pfizer mRNA COVID-19 vaccine received FDA emergency use authorization on May 10, 2021. This authorization was granted after careful review of studies of the vaccine not only in adults but specifically in the 12-17 year old age group. As with the adult COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine, those 12-17 years of age would receive 2 doses of the vaccine separated by 3 weeks.
We understand that there are many parents who might be hesitant to vaccinate their pre-teen and teenagers. However, the data we have thus far shows that this vaccine will greatly reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, and additionally, the vaccine has a greater than 90% chance of preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death if a vaccinated individual does become positive for COVID. As recommended by the CDC, those that have been vaccinated and are exposed to someone with COVID-19, quarantine is not necessary as long as the person remains without any symptoms of illness. This will likely be very important for the upcoming school year not only for school attendance but also for extracurricular participation.
Everything we do in life, including medical interventions like vaccines, can have side effects or risks. One side effect that the CDC has monitored very closely with regards to the COVID-19 vaccine has been the risk of myocarditis. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, and it can be seen after many viral illnesses. COVID is no exception here as we know that some children and teens who have contracted COVID-19 have certainly suffered from myocarditis. At this time, there have been around 1,200 national cases of possible myocarditis that have occurred shortly after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The majority of these cases that have been reported have been in males 16 and older after the second dose of the vaccine. What we know now is that the vast majority of patients that have had myocarditis following a COVID vaccine have quickly recovered without long lasting effects. Please remember that is 1,200 cases out of more than 9 million doses of COVID vaccines that have been given as of this writing to those 12-17 years of age.
It is estimated that for every 1 million second doses of the COVID vaccine given to 12-17 year old males, there would be 56-69 cases of possible vaccine related myocarditis. In this same population, the vaccine will have prevented 5,700 COVID cases, 215 hospitalizations including 71 intensive care unit stays and 2 deaths from the disease itself. For females 12-17 years of age, 8-10 cases of myocarditis following the vaccine could be seen while 8,500 COVID cases, 183 hospitalizations including 38 ICU stays and 1 death would be prevented.
We encourage all parents with questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine in those 12 and older to discuss your concerns with your pediatrician directly. As we have always done and will continue to do, the pediatricians at The Baton Rouge Clinic are here to partner with parents to ensure the health and wellbeing of children as they grow, and certainly in a time of many questions and concerns regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations, we want to be a part of the discussion.
The Baton Rouge Clinic’s Pediatricians