The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the lives of many people in several different ways. People from all age groups have been affected in different ways, and teenagers and adolescents are no different. Adolescents, according to the World Health Organization, are individuals in the age group of 10 to 19.
Latest COVID Update: Booster Dose For Adolescents
Coronavirus has affected this group also, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Though symptoms in children in most cases are mild, the aftereffects are severe that may include acute respiratory syndrome, myocarditis, etc. The worst affected, however, is their mental health.
Continuous usage of masks, continually staying at home for the past two years, virtual classrooms, leading isolated lives away from their friend circles, death of family members, financial crisis are some of the factors that have led to the deterioration of their mental health.
In view of the current scenario, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) had already approved giving COVID-19 vaccination to all healthy children above the age of 5 years, with varying doses according to the age groups. The distance between the two doses remains at 21 days.
The surge in the coronavirus cases with emerging new variants, including Omicron, over the past few days has led to increasing concern once again. It is of utmost necessity that not only adults but children and teenagers are also safe from the disease. In such a situation, the Centers for Disease Control in the USA has given its approval for booster doses for children in the age group of 12 to 15. The booster dose is to be taken after a period of 5 months from the double Pfizer vaccines, thereby reducing the waiting time from 6 months to 5 months. Youngsters who have had both doses of Moderna vaccines, however, have to wait for the completion of 6 months to get their booster shots.
The booster shot will not only safeguard the young individuals from COVID-19 and its complications but also from the latest variants, including the highly-transmissible Omicron and Delta variants, enabling the youngsters to get back to a near-normal life after a long span of 2 years. Speaking to CNN, Dr. David Hill, pediatrician, and child development expert has made it clear that there are no long-term side effects of this booster dose. Swelling or redness at the local injection site is a common short-term side effect reported. He also added that the booster shot starts its trick by 7 to 14 days. He further remarked that the chances of contracting a severe infection leading to hospitalization or even death are remarkably reduced by the administration of this booster dose. There are enough booster doses available for all the kids in this particular age group, he said.
The Food and Drug Administration has authorized Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses for healthy adolescents in the age group of 12-15 years, at a time when children are ready to gear back to school after their winter holidays. In Israel, as many as 6300 adolescents in the same age group have gotten the Pfizer vaccine with no side effects whatsoever. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 6 million to 7 million children in the USA in the age group of 12 to 17 have already got double doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Children with weakened immune systems are, however, eligible for more doses under the guidance of pediatricians.
While the efficacy of booster doses cannot be questioned, healthcare experts are stressing the fact that vaccines and other precautionary measures like masking, maintaining social distance are mandatory to stay protected from the disease.
Pediatricians, psychiatrists, guardians, and parents must take up this responsibility to counsel their children about the usage of vaccines and booster doses and educate them on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet and exercise.
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