UF Health pediatrician addresses concerns with vaccinating kids against COVID-19

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) – While children ages 12 to 15 are not at high risk of contracting COVID-19, they can still experience long-term effects. Parents are strongly encouraged to let their kids shoot, but for hesitant parents, UF Health experts said they will continue to wear masks.

UF Health pediatrician Dr. Sonja Rasmussen said that while children aged 12-15 aren’t as susceptible to the virus, that doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk.

“In March and April, there were a lot of teenagers who were hospitalized and many of them ended up in an intensive care unit,” Rasmussen said.

According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 90 thousand children ages 12 to 14 in the state have received at least their first dose.

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Garrison Becker, 15, got his vaccine a day after he qualified.

“It felt pretty good and it was a nice and smooth process,” said Becker.

His mother, Mallory Becker, said they feel safer traveling when they are vaccinated.

“We’ve been vaccinated with both injections already in the school district,” Mallory Becker said. “We feel a little bit safer now that we’re approaching summer and going on vacation and stuff like that.”

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dr. Rasmussen said some parents are first in line and others want to wait.

With summer vacation underway, Dr. Rasmussen that if your child has not been vaccinated, it is vital to follow CDC guidelines.

“It’s important to wear those masks, put the six feet away,” said Dr. rasmussen. “It won’t be that long anymore.”

A rare condition called myocarditis is the only vaccine-related concern in young boys that can cause shortness of breath or a rapid heartbeat.

“So you’re weighing the benefits of COVID-19 against this potential risk of myocarditis, which seems mild and very rare and seems to go away after a few days,” said Dr. rassmussen.

She estimated that the next in line will be kids ages 5 to 11 around October, but there are even more steps for toddlers.

“We want to make sure there are no adverse effects,” said Dr. rasmussen. “A 12-year-old and an 11-year-old aren’t that much different, but a 12-year-old and a six-year-old are quite different and we want to make sure the companies are doing the studies they’re supposed to be doing,” said Dr. rassmussen.

The best advice she can give hesitant parents is to talk to your pediatrician, someone who knows your family history, and go from there.

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