What people need to know about COVID-19 booster shots for children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday endorsed COVID-19 booster shots for kids 12 to 15 years old. Boosters now are approved for everyone 16 and up, and a Maryland pediatrician wants to emphasize how dramatically boosters can improve protection.

“Many of our teenagers were vaccinated over the summer, so with the high COVID numbers in the community now, the best way to protect them is to get the booster,” said Dr. Christina Brown a Kaiser Permanente pediatrician in White Marsh.

She said data from adults show boosters improve protection significantly.

“If you’ve had two doses but not had your booster, the vaccine is only about 33% effective. But if you’ve had your booster, it rises it up to 75% against this new omicron variant,” Brown said.

Children who have had their first two doses of the Pfizer vaccine are eligible to get a booster about five months after the second shot.

So, what about potential side effects?

“So far, I’ve heard very minimal side effects from the vaccine in this age group. Many people just had a sore arm; many did not have fever at all so really well tolerated in this age group,” Brown said. “The booster is definitely the best way to keep them protected as school starts up again.”

Brown said the vaccine is free and readily available; everyone should take advantage of it and continue to practice pandemic related precautions.

“I would absolutely sit down and talk to your children about it. We know that hand washing works, that masks work, that testing is extremely important. Even if you tested this week, but then you find out about a new exposure, you have to test again five days after that exposure,” she said.

Noting that Maryland is now under a state of emergency and that COVID-19 hospitalizations are expected to increase dramatically, Brown said everyone should do what they can to reduce spreading COVID-19 and increasing demand on a health care system already stretched to the limit.

“I know of a family whose father had a preventable illness, but his care was greatly compromised because of all the shortages of staff and rooms availability he had very delayed care because there was just no room,” she said. “It is heartbreaking to hear these stories.”

Brown said everyone should realize and act like this is something that impacts every member of the community.

“We are still all in this together. It still takes every one of us to do our part, keep handwashing, keep wearing your mask, keep distancing. Your activities outside are always going to be lower risk than inside,” Brown said. “Hang in there and talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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