Local doctor discusses vaccine for teens

TRI-CITIES, WA - Teens have spent most of the past year learning from a distance. Many missed out on birthday parties, playing sports, and hanging out with friends.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 to 15 and we do not have the recommendation for a vaccine for kids younger than 12, but one local doctor said it is coming.

Dr. Sheila Dunlop, former director of the Family Practice Residency at TRIOS and an independent contractor, said there are reasons why vaccinating younger individuals is a good thing.

She said the pandemic has really impacted teenagers' mental health.

"It breaks my heart these kids have been missing each other for the entire year, they don't get to hang out with their friends in person, sure a Zoom call is nice, but it is not the same as being there with your friends. So, this opens up the world to the kids to able to be in contact with each other again," Dr. Sheila said.

She said kids are at risk too. Dr. Sheila said the COVID-19 vaccine can protect them from severe illness.

"Unfortunately the teens, while the risk of death is really small, the risk of serve disease, and intubation and being in the ICU is very high," she said.

Dr. Sheila also said getting kids vaccinated will help bring the country closer to immunity and the point at which COVID-19 will stop spreading. She said kids are looking forward to in-person classes.

"I have three grandsons and the oldest one is 13. And he got his first vaccine. Yay! He is feeling so happy that this is going to open up his world now," she said.

She said she would tell hesitant parents this: "to the influenza of vaccine, that kids get every when they go to school. It is so routine, it is boring, people don't even think about it anymore. I want this to be routine and boring. This is going to safe lives," she said.

For more information on the vaccine for kids, you are encouraged to reach out to your local doctor or you can go to the CDC's website.