The Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine became available to people ages 12-15 on May 18th in California, meaning that most high schoolers are now able to get it. They are available at no cost, and have been proven by experts to have made a big difference in the country reopening by stopping the spread of Covid-19 saving many lives, along with preventing stress on the health care system. Currently, 49% of Californians are fully vaccinated and 13% are partially vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
The Covid-19 vaccines have been thoroughly reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make sure they are safe and effective. Currently, the only vaccine available to people 12-15 is Pfizer. The three authorized vaccines prevent catching Covid-19 about 95% of the time (Pfizer and Moderna), and about 66% of the time (Johnson and Johnson). All three vaccines have saved numerous lives, and have helped the nation return to normal.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, although it has a lower effectiveness rating, has the benefit of only needing to be administered once. This allows people who oftentimes are hard to reach (for example, the homeless) to be at least partially protected from Covid-19 and less likely to die from it if they do catch it, along with anyone else who gets it. Also, the blood-clotting side effects that many people worry about are extremely rare. As of May 12th, only 28 people had that side effect out of over 8.7 million people vaccinated with Johnson and Johnson, which calculates to about 1 in 310,000 people. Your chance of dying from Covid-19 without this vaccine is much, much higher.
Due to most kids not being vaccinated against Covid-19 and many adults having been, the ratio of kids catching it compared to adults has been rising. Some kids, although rare, get MIS-C (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children), a dangerous syndrome when they contract Covid-19. Others have long-lasting effects after catching it. So although the virus is very unlikely to kill you as a kid (still hundreds of deaths in the US alone), you could still pass it on to people at high risk and/or suffer through it for a long time.
Another benefit of getting vaccinated now is that a study has shown that people who catch Covid-19 after getting vaccinated are about half as likely to pass it on compared to people who didn’t get vaccinated. This can protect other people from suffering or dying from this illness. More information can be found on this study here.
Some people decide to never get the vaccine due to immediate side effects, or wait a while in case there are long-term side effects from it. However, after many months of studying the effects on people, the chances of there being long-term side effects whatsoever are growing increasingly slim. Also, very few people have had truly serious side effects after vaccination, but a significant number of people have caught Covid-19, and many of them have had very serious symptoms. For the FDA to pass all three authorized vaccines, they needed to believe that all three have benefits (less likely to catch Covid-19) that outweigh the risks (potential side effects). More about the process here.
If you are still on the fence about getting a Covid-19 vaccine, see what Dr. Fauci has to say about getting it as an adolescent here, and/or talk to your health care provider, especially if you’re not sure due to questions or a medical condition. Later this year, Pfizer is aiming to authorize their vaccine for even younger kids, between 2 and 11 years old in September and 6 month-olds to 2 year olds by the end of the year. Moderna will likely make their vaccine available to teens soon, after their trial reported 100% efficiency in teens (probably less in the real world).