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UIHC says it’s important for kids and teens to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 9:39 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - People ages 17 and younger make up approximately 1/5 of U.S. COVID cases in recent weeks, a trend that’s changed as more adults get vaccinated. Even if someone in this younger age group is infected, doctors say their risk of severe illness is low. But doctors with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics say it’s important to get kids and teens vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible.

In the last seven days, the state says 4% of cases are among those 17 and younger. Since the pandemic began, less than 1/10 of a percent of deaths in Iowa are among kids. So the numbers are low.

But an infectious disease expert from the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital says vaccinating the younger population is an important piece to ending the pandemic.

Dr. Melanie Wellington says every time someone is infected, the virus copies itself and it could mutate and cause COVID variants. And even though kids have a lower risk, they can get very sick from the virus. And she says it’s important to vaccinate kids as they become eligible.

“Even the people who have been immunized are vulnerable from getting it from somebody else,” Dr. Wellington said. “And by immunizing everybody, we’re decreasing the chances that one person will give it to the next person, and therefore we make the chances that someone who’s vaccinated will get it is almost zero.”

She says side effects for kids are the same as adults: a sore arm, maybe a fever, or fatigue.

So what about masks for those are younger than 12? Dr. Wellington says they should continue to wear masks until transmission rates are very low.

As for those who are too young to wear masks-kids younger than 2-she says the best way to protect them is to vaccinate those who are around them.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are currently holding vaccine trials for kids as young as 6 months old.

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