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Do Healthy Young People Need the COVID-19 Vaccine?

By Pamela Simms-Mackey, MD, FAAP

Yes. If your teen or child is healthy but has not had their COVID vaccine, don't wait.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the COVID-19 vaccine for ages 6 months and older. Updated booster doses also are strongly encouraged for kids age 6 months and up.

Millions of kids in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccines.


Why I started a volunteer group to help people access the COVID vaccine

By Benjamin Kagan

I'm 15 years old and a youth vaccine advocate. For those who are old enough but still have not been vaccinated, I am sharing my story with you about why I made the choice to get the COVID vaccine—and I urge you to get it, too.

I also encourage everyone who is eligible to get their booster shot to do so right away.

My journey with the COVID-19 vaccine started when I was watching TV and saw that Florida, where my grandparents live, was opening up vaccination appointments to seniors and health care workers for the first time.

My grandparents (pictured above with me) had been living their lives with extreme caution since the pandemic began. They had been refraining from in-person interactions with friends and family. They hadn't seen me or any of their grandkids for many months because we don't live in the same state. They were eager to get COVID vaccines but finding and setting up appointments wasn't easy for them. I wanted to keep them safe, so I vowed to work tirelessly to find them vaccine appointments.

The experience inspired me to start Chicago Vaccine Angels—a group of 50+ volunteers working to get vaccine appointments for health care workers, senior citizens, and essential workers.

My grandparents weren't the only reason I made the choice to get vaccinated. Before the vaccine became available to teens, I was living in constant fear. I was really scared that I might get long-haul COVID and suffer side effects for many years. As a result of my concerns, I rarely saw friends and was extremely careful on the occasions that I did.

When it was my turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine, I was extremely excited.

Don't get me wrong—like every other kid, I don't enjoy getting shots. But this shot was different. This shot allowed me to feel safe in school, hang out with friends and get back to a somewhat normal life.

Again, I'm a teenager and I understand that life hasn't returned to what it was before the pandemic. It has become substantially better now that I'm vaccinated. Today, I can play soccer again and not worry about whether I'm going to be the next person to become seriously ill with COVID-19. Getting vaccinated also allowed me to see my grandparents and extended family.

In my opinion, getting vaccinated is a selfless decision. By getting vaccinated, you are helping to protect not only yourself, but also the older and high-risk people with whom you have frequent contact.

For the United States to return to normalcy, all of us need to get vaccinated so that we can get this dangerous virus under control. So please, do your part and get the shot.

Benjamin Kagan attends high school in Chicago. Founder of the Chicago Vaccine Angels, he is an administrator of the Chicago Vaccine Hunters and a Vaccine Ambassador for the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.

We can protect one another

The vaccine does more than prevent serious illness in healthy kids. When everyone is vaccinated, they are less likely to get very sick and need hospital care.

The highly contagious virus can be passed to a young child, then to a grandparent, who may be at higher risk of serious illness or death from a COVID-19 infection.

We can stay healthy

Many people think that side effects from a vaccine are not supposed to happen. In fact, side effects are expected. Vaccine-anticipated reactions are a good sign that the body is reacting to the vaccine and that it is working to develop immunity to the virus.

Children and teens are more at risk of serious side effects ​from the virus than from the vaccine. And we know that kids who get COVID can have long-COVID illness and other ongoing problems.

Trust your pediatrician

The vaccines are safe, and they are the best public health measure to protect people from COVID-19, slow transmission, and reduce the likelihood of new variants emerging. Your pediatrician can answer all your questions about the vaccine and the virus that causes COVID. Your pediatrician knows your child and family and will provide facts about the vaccine for children.

More information

About the author

Pamela Simms-Mackey, MD, FAAP, is Chair of Pediatrics and Chief of Graduate Medical Education at Alameda Health System in California. She has dedicated her career to reducing health disparities among underserved populations.

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2022)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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