The COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Panorama City was crowded this afternoon on Saturday, May 15. Parents with their preteens and teens came and went out of the room, as a nurse went around, vaccinating the 12- to 15-year-olds at their seats.
Health authorities are now providing the COVID-19 inoculations for all teens and preteens, and many parents are eager to have their kids protected against the coronavirus that continues to thrive in several countries around the world.
So far, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for those ages 12 to 17, which requires two shots separated by approximately 20 days.
County officials add that anyone age 12-17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to a vaccination site.
Diciembre de Acero said she would have her daughter, 14-year-old Agueda de Santiago, vaccinated.
“We all have been vaccinated — my husband, my son Franco, who is 16, and I’ll be taking Agueda,” the Pacoima resident said.
“We all must be protected and protect our family.”
Acero is not worried about the vaccine’s safety or side effects. “We have to think about the benefits of being vaccinated and not be at risk of dying,” she said.
Lolita Hernandez said her son Oliver Zaravia, almost 15, is eager to get the shot.
“He wants to be vaccinated. He says it’s something good to combat the virus,” the San Fernando resident said.
“We will be vaccinating him as soon as we speak with his pediatrician to ask him some questions, because he has asthma and he’s taking medication (for it).”
But not everyone is convinced.
Gloria Salazar said she is not rushing to have her 15-year-old son inoculated.
“We still don’t know what the vaccine includes and I don’t know what reaction it could have,” she said.“If it’s not a requirement, we don’t think we’ll get him vaccinated.
“We’d rather he continue to wear a face mask and practice social distancing,” Salazar said.
Dr. David Solarte, associate medical director for Pediatrics at San Fernando Community Health Center, said he is “getting bombarded” with questions from parents about the vaccines and stressed it is safe for all ages.
“When you look at the pros and cons, there is such a minimal risk of getting the vaccine compared to the actual viruses. So it’s best to avoid getting infected if at all possible,” he said.
The doctor explained that tens of thousands of people have been vaccinated and the side effects have been minimal, “if any at all.”
In addition, he said, having 12- to 15-year-olds inoculated helps to not only protect them against COVID-19 but also the rest of the family, because if the kids aren’t vaccinated, “they’re going to continually spread it to adults. So (parents) have to make sure the kids are protected for the benefit of other people in the family.”
“Unless everybody is getting [vaccinated], it will be very difficult for us to get over this pandemic as a community and as a nation,” Solarte said.
He added the dosage for adults and 12- to 15-year-olds is the same, “something that is very common” for this age.
“At 12-15 they’re close to being an adult in weight. In vaccines, [the dosage] it doesn’t make a big difference,” Solarte said
Many universities and colleges are requiring their students to be vaccinated before returning to the campus in the fall. And Solarte believes more schools will take the same stance — another reason the doctor recommends parents take advantage and vaccinate their kids now.
“You don’t want to end up rushing at the last minute. It’s best to do it now if you’re going to go to college or travel,” he said.
Solarte also said being vaccinated allows people to gather with family and friends without the risk of spreading the disease.
“I encourage people to think not just about themselves, but about their parents, grandparents,” he said. “We can join in with all the special events we’ve missed in the past year. If we get vaccinated, the easier it will be for all of us to enjoy and be together with our family and friends.”
Resuming Family Gatherings
The desire to resume taking part in her family gatherings is motivating Pacoima resident Claudia Andrade de Madrigal to have her 14-year-old daughter vaccinated.
“It’s for our health and the wellness of our seniors. Better to have [the vaccine] now than to lament the death of a loved one later,” Madrigal said.
She admitted being “a little apprehensive since this is a new vaccine,” but added, “I try not to think about that and be positive, inform myself about the reactions and what to do in case (her daughter) has some.”
Madrigal said her family is looking forward to gathering with relatives again, but they’ll also remain proactive about staying protected.
“I still intend to wear a face mask for a little bit longer,” she said.
A full list of vaccination sites in Los Angeles offering the Pfizer vaccine is available at http://bit.ly/PfizerSites.