What parents should know about vaccination for 12-15 year olds

Great news for many families: the CDC and FDA have authorized the emergency use of Pfizer vaccine to 12-15 year olds! We sat down with  Libby Page, manager of our immunizations program, to get the details about this expansion of COVID-19 vaccination.

This is an exciting development, especially coming before summer starts. What could change for adolescents and teens once they’re vaccinated?

Libby Page: Once teens are fully vaccinated, they will be able to do more of the things they’ve been missing. They can socialize with their vaccinated friends and family. They can safely return to sports, camps, and other activities that are so important for their mental health and well-being. As a mom of two teens, this is such welcome news!

Travel is also safer and easier—fully vaccinated people can travel without getting tested for COVID or quarantining. If teens and adolescents start their vaccinations now, they can be fully vaccinated before summer vacation.

Is Pfizer the only option for adolescents and teens?

Right now, only Pfizer has been authorized for people aged 12-17. You need to get two doses to be fully vaccinated.

How was it tested with this age group?

Over 2,250 volunteers in the 12-15 year age group participated in clinical trials. They found no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents. According to the study, adolescents had side effects similar to young adults. The main side effects are pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. These side effects are normal and signs that the body is building immunity.

In addition, teens aged 16-17 were among the tens of thousands of volunteers who participated in clinical trials that started over a year ago. Those trials, along with the results from the millions of people who have been vaccinated so far, have found that Pfizer vaccine is over 90% effective with an excellent safety record.

So how can teens and adolescents get vaccinated?

Many locations have Pfizer vaccine right now, so there are many options.  Parents or authorized adults can bring their kids 12 and older to vaccination sites, pharmacies, and community health centers.  Some family doctors and pediatricians also offer the Pfizer vaccine. No appointments are needed at many sites across King County.

This weekend, we’re holding some family events to make it welcoming and easy to get vaccinated:

  • Saturday, 5/15, 8:30 am – 5 pm: Vax to the Future at Kent ShoWare Center (625 W James St, Kent, WA 98032) featuring live music and “I Got Vaccinated” buttons designed by local artists.
  • Sunday, 5/16, 8:30 am – 5 pm: Family Pfizer Day at Kent ShoWare Center (625 W James St, Kent, WA 98032)
  • No appointments are needed, but if you prefer to have a scheduled time, you can make an appointment at www.covidvaccine.kingcounty.gov.

And we know it can be hard for some teens and families to get to vaccination, so we’re working with school districts and other partners to bring vaccination to schools. Starting next week, nearly all districts have plans in place to host clinics at high schools and middle schools.  

For more information about vaccination options, including walk-in sites, ADA accessibility, interpretation, or ride service, see: kingcounty.gov/vaccine.

Do adolescents and teens need to go with their parent or guardian to get vaccinated?

If a parent or other authorized adult cannot attend the vaccine appointment, youth can check with their vaccine provider about requirements for showing proof of adult consent or legal emancipation. Some providers will not vaccinate youth younger than 18 without an authorized adult present.

Public Health – Seattle & King County vaccination sites will accept a written consent form for minors. Public Health staff can also accept verbal consent over the phone or a written note from an authorized adult. Our sites are at Kent ShoWare, Auburn Outlet Mall, and at our Public Health Centers—you can find more information at kingcounty.gov/vaccine.

Can youth get other vaccinations when they get the Pfizer vaccination? 

Yes, the CDC has just determined that other routine vaccinations can be given at the same time. This makes it so much easier for families to get caught up on the routine vaccinations that adolescents and teens need, like MCV (meningococcal), Tdap and HPV. 

Where can parents go if they have more questions?

  • For more information about vaccination for youth and teens: kingcounty.gov/vaccine/youth. For more about COVID vaccine: kingcounty.gov/covid/vaccine.
  • Youth Link and the City of Bellevue are also hosting an information session on Friday, May 14 from 5-7 PM on Zoom. Registration is required.
  • Talk to your child’s doctor or healthcare provider. They are wonderful sources of information.

Originally posted on May 13, 2021.

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I am a risk communications specialist at Public Health - Seattle & King County.