Let’s move the needle and get youth vaccinated against COVID-19

By Lindsay Advocate

Dr. Bocking, Medical Officer of Health at HKPRDHU
Dr. Natalie Bocking, medical officer of health.

By Dr. Natalie Bocking, medical officer of health, HKPR District Health Unit

As parents, we want what’s best for our children and teens. We want to offer support, protection, and advice. Although hugs may be a tougher sell for teenagers, they are important too – just like COVID-19 vaccines.

Right now, getting our youth vaccinated for COVID-19 is essential, especially before the start of school. The headlines are correct, a fourth wave of COVID-19 is likely this fall. While many older people are fully vaccinated, young people 12-17 years of age have the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate of any age group in our region.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and approved for use in anyone 12 years and older (COVID-19 vaccines for younger children are still in clinical trials and awaiting regulatory approval for use). Two doses of Pfizer vaccine are needed for full protection, and the good news, is that there is plenty of supply locally, so no youth has to go unvaccinated and unprotected.

We know our youth are strong, resilient, and if sick with COVID-19, usually experience mild side effects. This is not the case for others whom a youth may encounter, should they be infected with COVID-19.

With an increase in fully vaccinated youth, we stand a better chance against a fourth COVID-19 wave caused by the highly-infectious Delta variant. Simply put, if our young, able-bodied constituents aren’t protected from this even more dangerous variant, then neither are we as a community.

Let’s encourage our teens to get vaccinated. Urge them to do it for the grandparent who has been isolated in a long-term care home and wants to give her grandchild a big hug. Do it so they can go back to in-person learning in September to see all their friends and favourite teachers. Do it so they can get back to what they love doing – hockey, dance, art class or hanging out with friends.

With fall, a new school year and (unfortunately) a fourth COVID-19 wave quickly approaching, the time to act, the time to get vaccinated is now. As parents, we need to move the needle and encourage our youth to get vaccinated — for their sake, our piece of mind, and our community’s protection.

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