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Parents Urged to Get Kids Vaccinated Against COVID-19

From Dr. Stephanie Stovall, a Pediatric Infectious Disease Physician and Chief Officer Quality and Patient Safety for Lee Health

I know many parents are anxious to get their young children vaccinated against COVID-19.

While vaccines aren’t yet approved for kids under 12 years-old, they are available for children 12 and over, and I highly encourage any parent who has not yet vaccinated their child in this age group to do so as soon as possible.

At Golisano Children’s Hospital, we are seeing 4-5 times more pediatric patients with COVID-19 during this surge compared to the last, which took place in July 2020.

It is extremely important to vaccinate our 12-17 year-olds. We have seen otherwise healthy children in this age group hospitalized at Golisano with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines have been used under the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes studies in adolescents.

The Pfizer vaccine, which is approved for use in those 12 years-old and older, provides significant protection for children, even with the highly-contagious Delta variant that is circulating right now. The Delta variant is affecting kids much more so than the original strain. If children are not fully vaccinated, their risk – like adults – is higher for hospitalization and severe disease with this variant.

I know there has been concern among some parents in getting their children vaccinated for COVID-19 due to the reported cases of myocarditis over the summer. As a pediatric infectious disease physician, I encourage you to vaccinate your child as soon as you’re able. Your child is at a higher risk of getting myocarditis from COVID-19 than the vaccine.

It is an extremely rare side effect from the vaccine, however, myocarditis and pericarditis are much more common if you get COVID-19, and the risks to the heart from COVID-19 infection can be more severe.

The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and several other leading health agencies strongly encourage everyone age 12 and older who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated, as the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any harm.

Lee Health offers several ways to get your child vaccinated for COVID-19. You can visit the Golisano Children’s Hospital Mobile Vaccination Clinic, which makes stops each week throughout Southwest Florida. Or, you can bring your child to our Community Vaccination Clinic, located at Gulf Coast Medical Center. The vaccine is offered at no cost.

If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your provider or your child’s pediatrician.