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

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - While kids ages 12 to 15 aren’t at a high risk for contracting COVID-19, they can still face long lasting effects. Parents are highly encouraged to get their kids that shot, but for hesitant parents UF Health experts said to continue wearing masks.

UF Health Pediatrician Dr. Sonja Rasmussen said while kids ages 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 that were hospitalized and a lot of them ended up in an intensive care unit,” Rasmussen said.

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

Related story: CDC report renews calls for young people to get COVID-19 vaccine

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

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

His mom, Mallory Becker said being vaccinated makes them feel safer when traveling.

“We’ve been vaccinated with both shots already through the school district,” Mallory Becker said. “We’re able to feel a little bit more secure as we approach summer and start to go on vacations 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 said if your child is not vaccinated it’s vital to follow CDC guidelines.

“It’s important to wear those masks, do the six foot distance,” Dr. Rasmussen said. “It’s not going to be that much longer.”

A rare condition called Myocarditis is the only concern that could be connected to the vaccine seen in young boys, that may cause shortness of breath or fast heart rate.

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

She estimated that next in line will be kids 5 to 11 years old around October but there are still more steps for toddlers.

“We want to be sure there aren’t any adverse effects,” Dr. Rasmussen said. “A 12-year-old and an 11-year-old aren’t that much different, but a twelve year old and a six year old are pretty different and we want to be sure that the companies do the studies they need to do,” Dr. Rassmussen said.

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

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