Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Based on data, MHS experts encourage vaccines for adolescents

Sister and brother smiling at each other Lucy Yun, 12, and Eli Yun, 14, pose for a family photo in San Antonio, Texas, May 2, 2021. The siblings, along with their brother Theo, 17, and their mother, Air Force Col. Heather Yun, deputy commander for medical services and an infectious disease physician, participated in vaccine trials. The Food and Drug Administration recently expanded the emergency use authorization to include the Pfizer vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years old (Photo by: Air Force Col. Heather Yun).

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Children's Health | Vaccine Eligibility

Air Force Col. Heather Yun enrolled her teenagers in COVID-19 vaccine trials in back in the winter.

An infectious disease physician, Yun spoke with her children at length about the vaccine studies, and they were eager to do their part in the battle against the pandemic. More nervous about the blood draw than the shot, her children "overcame their fears and got it done," she said.

"I am so incredibly proud of my brave kids for doing their part for their community and the nation," said Yun, who also serves as Brooke Army Medical Center's deputy commander of medical services.

With the recent authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 12 to 15, Yun is now encouraging other parents to consider the vaccine for their adolescents as well.

"The data continues to demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and effective," Yun said. "Vaccinating this population is an important step in ending the pandemic."

LAYER OF PROTECTION

With emergency use authorization and a 100 percent efficacy rate for this age group, "we are strongly recommending the vaccine for adolescents," noted Army Maj. Megan Donahue, BAMC's chief, pediatric infectious diseases.

However, vaccine hesitancy continues to be an ongoing challenge, particularly among young people who feel less threatened by the virus due to lower infection rates and reports of mild illness, noted Air Force Lt. Col. Alice Barsoumian, associate professor of medicine, San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium Infectious Disease Fellowship Program.

While it's true that fewer children have been infected with COVID than adults, experts are tracking an increase in COVID infection and hospitalizations within younger populations, Barsoumian said, citing reopening schools and the easing of face covering requirements as potential causes. Additionally, some strains appear to be more contagious to children.

"Thankfully, hospitalization rates are still low," she said, "But we need to keep in mind that one in three children hospitalized with COVID is admitted to the ICU (intensive care unit)."

Children may also be at risk of a severe inflammatory response to COVID infection called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or MIS-C, a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While a direct link to COVID-19 hasn’t been established, many children with MIS-C had the virus or had been around someone with the infection.

Another risk is post-acute COVID syndrome, which causes symptoms to include fatigue, exercise intolerance, depression and poor sleep, explained Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Markelz, BAMC's chief of infectious disease service. “This syndrome does not occur with immunization," she noted.

Education and awareness remain key to boosting vaccination rates. "The vaccine is incredibly important for building herd immunity," Markelz said. "Additionally, children have the same transmissibility to others as adults, providing an important route of spread to their loved ones."

Yun's 12-year-old daughter, Lucy, agrees. "I think it's important for kids to get vaccinated because even though in some cases we're less likely to get hurt from sicknesses, it's better for protecting people who are higher risk," she said.

MINIMAL SIDE EFFECTS

The Pfizer vaccine is administered in the same dosage and dosing regimen for 12 to 15-year-olds as it is for ages 16 and older - which is two doses 21 days apart. The COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines may be administered without regard to timing, according to new CDC guidance. Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC previously had recommended a minimum of 14 days between the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines; however, data has indicated the safety of simultaneous administration.

As with adults, adolescents are reporting varying non-serious side effects post-vaccination, typically lasting for one to three days, Barsoumian said. These side effects can include pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, chills, muscle pain, fever and joint pain.

Yun's 14-year-old son, Eli, reported a few side effects after his shot. "The vaccine itself didn't actually hurt when it was injected, but afterward, I had a pretty sore arm following the first dose, and flu-like symptoms following the second dose for a few days," he said.

"Side effects appear similar, but occur slightly more frequently in this population than in older populations," Barsoumian said. "We've noticed this in the adult population as well – the somewhat younger you are, the somewhat more frequently they occur."

MOVING FORWARD

While Pfizer is currently the only FDA-approved vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds, other manufacturers, such as Moderna, are likely to follow. As for the younger age groups, based on the study cohorts, the manufacturers will most likely roll out approval in stages, Barsoumian said, starting with 6- to 11-year-olds and followed by 2- to 5-year-olds at a later date.

Barsoumian is eager for that day to arrive. Her children, who are 10 and younger, are unable to get the shot at this time, but she has signed them up for all available studies across the state.

Markelz has also signed her young children up for local studies and is awaiting enrollment to open. "My kids dread getting vaccines, but they both have stated they will get it when they can because they want to protect 'nanna, papa and their teachers,'" she said.

With authorization at hand, many parents and adolescents are lining up to get the shot. The CDC has announced that half a million kids ages 12 to 15 have received a COVID-19 vaccine in less than one week and, in total, more than 4.1 million adolescents ages 12 to 17 have been vaccinated so far.

"This is incredible progress," Barsoumian said. "Go get ‘em kids!"

You also may be interested in...

From coast to coast, Navy personnel helping stop COVID-19 spread

Article
4/26/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask getting people ready for the COVID-19 vaccine

From coast to coast, Navy Medicine personnel are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

DHA’s immunization health care specialists support vaccine rollout

Article
4/26/2021
Image of military personnel getting COVID-19 vaccines ready. Click to open a larger version of the image.

The Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Health Care Division specialists were instrumental in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines to Department of Defense military medical treatment facilities around the world.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

DHA Appointing Portal simplifies signing up for COVID-19 vaccination

Article
4/23/2021
Image of military health personnel wearing a face mask scheduling COVID-19 vaccine shots. Click to open a larger version of the image.

A new online and easy-to-use COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal is rolling out around the world at Military Treatment Facilities. It needs some tweaking on the admin end, users say.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Health Innovation Month

Clinic doors open wide for those wanting COVID-19 vaccine

Article
4/21/2021
Military personnel administering the COVID-19 vaccine

All eligible and authorized Department of Defense personnel can now get a COVID-19 vaccine if they want one.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Laboratory professionals play important role in fight against COVID-19

Article
4/21/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask prepares COVID-19 test samples

Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 18-24, recognizes the behind-the-scenes work laboratorians do to generate clinical lab results and, ultimately, guide the courses of treatment for patients.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | April

From COVID-19 testing to MHS GENESIS support, lab techs do it all

Article
4/20/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask using a blood analyzer machine

To describe what lab techs do, Geisler chose a famed fictional detective to illustrate their importance and provide context.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Keesler uses post-vaccine waiting period to identify routine care gaps

Article
4/20/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask administering the COVID-19 vaccine

15 minutes is all it takes to get routine health care back on track.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Tanker medics from McConnell AFB are fighting COVID-19 in St. Paul

Article
4/20/2021
Military health personnel wearing face masks hugging

Tanker Medics from McConnell Air Force Base travel to Minnesota to help fight COVID-19

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Tidewater set to become fifth Military Health System market

Article
4/19/2021
Military health personnel reading a medical machine

The Tidewater Military Health System market in southeast Virginia is scheduled to officially stand up April 19.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | Military Health System Transformation

Young cancer survivor rings bell signifying treatment end

Article
4/16/2021
Sailor Parker writing her name on a wall sticker

Seven year old girl wins her battle against Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

Appenzeller emphasizes: Get COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where

Article
4/16/2021
Military personnel explaining forensic equipment

The DHA’s Combat Support assistant director had some direct and encouraging words about the military’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to date.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Tele-critical care will play increased COVID-19 response role in 2021

Article
4/15/2021
Infographic that says "202 tele-critical care successes will help 2021 COVID19 response"

Virtual health and particularly tele-critical care for critically ill patients assumed frontline roles in sustaining care while keeping beneficiaries and health care teams safe.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | Military Health System Transformation | Health Innovation Month

Join Us!! Third COVID-19 Townhall Update with Major General George Appenzeller!

Article
4/13/2021
MHS and Military OneSource COVID-19 Townhall, with Major General (Dr.) George N. Appenzeller.  Wednesday, 14 April, 1 PM ET

Join us for the MHS' Third COVID-19 Townhall with Major General George Appenzeller

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health

Public health remains an integral part in the fight against COVID

Article
4/9/2021
Infographic featuring health personnel wearing face shields and mask with "National Public Health Week" across the top of the picture

The pandemic has highlighted a need to provide more advanced training on infection prevention and control.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Toolkit | Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

DOD surpasses 2 million COVID-19 vaccines worldwide

Article
4/9/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask and a face shield giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The DOD hit the 2 million mark for vaccinations worldwide just a month after the 1 million milestone.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 28

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.