Skip to main content

Military Health System

Based on data, MHS experts encourage vaccines for adolescents

Image of 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:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Children's Health

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...

How to Get Your Kids Up to Date on Vaccinations

Article
8/25/2022
Child wearing a mask getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Resources to help you get and keep your child’s immunizations up to date in time for back to school.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Back to School | Immunization Healthcare Division

Consolidated Department of Defense Coronavirus Disease 2019 Force Health Protection Guidance

Policy

Consolidates and updates the Department’s guidance regarding vaccination verification, vaccination status, COVID-19 testing, surveillance and screening testing, personnel protection on-site mask requirements, (e.g., DHA military medical treatment facilities, meetings, travel), and the protection of personally identifiable information.

COVID-19 Novavax Vaccine

Infographic
8/18/2022
COVID-19 Novavax Vaccine

The Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine, Adjuvanated includes two doses, 21 days apart. Remember to mark your calendar and schedule time for your second dose.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines

COVID-19 Vaccines

Infographic
8/18/2022
COVID-19 Vaccines

How COVID-19 Vaccines Work – There are three types of vaccines currently available: mRNA, subunit protein, and viral vector. Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccine. Novavax is a subunit protein vaccine. Janssen is a viral vector vaccine. All products resemble a virus for the immune system to fight.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

COVID-19 Moderna Vaccine

Publication
8/17/2022

Moderna and mRNA vaccines are available. Moderna includes two doses, 28 days apart.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine

Publication
8/17/2022

Pfizer mRNA vaccines are available. Pfizer includes two doses, 21 days apart.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 Moderna and Pfizer Vaccines

Publication
8/17/2022

Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines are available. Moderna includes two doses, 28 days apart. Pfizer includes two doses, 21 days apart. Remember to mark your calendar and schedule time for your second dose

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines | Types of COVID-19 Vaccines | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

BACH Resumes Mom & Me Breastfeeding Support Group

Article Around MHS
8/11/2022
Military medical personnel weighs newborn

Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s breastfeeding support group, Mom & Me, has resumed in-person meetings, Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Women’s Health Clinic.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

Learn the Most Recent Age Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Article
8/10/2022
A man fist bumps a child.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get your vaccines and booster shots.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Article
8/10/2022
Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Telehealth Program

Whole Health System Approach to Long COVID

Publication
8/1/2022

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration is leading an effort to equip health care providers with a Veteran-centered Whole Health System approach to caring for Veterans with Long COVID, also known as post-COVID-19 conditions.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus

Be Prepared with Back-to-School Immunizations

Video
7/28/2022
Be Prepared with Back-to-School Immunizations

Air Force Surgeon General Miller encourages parents to get their kids immunized before heading back to school in the fall.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Back to School

5 Health Care Checkups for Your Child Before School Starts

Article Around MHS
7/28/2022
Boy with backpack shopping

Plan your Child's Check-Up before school starts.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Immunizations | Back to School

Developmental Pediatrics Team Visits Vandenberg

Article Around MHS
7/1/2022
Military personnel conducting a class.

The Air Force Developmental Behavioral Family Readiness team hosted a workshop to introduce information on different programs that assist parents with special needs children. This workshop serves military families by directing and connecting them with services to help with their children’s developmental and behavioral needs.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

Vax Fax: Should I Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Infographic
7/1/2022
Vax Fax: Should I Get A COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Some people may be eligible for a second booster shot. Share this graphic to communicate who may be eligible.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 34
Refine your search
Last Updated: June 21, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery