BATON ROUGE, La. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week expanded Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine authorization to include children ages 12 to 15, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommended everyone age 12 and older get the vaccine. Today, the State of Louisiana announced parents can make appointments for their children in this age range to get the Pfizer vaccine.
Previously, the Pfizer vaccine was available to people ages 16 and older. The other two COVID-19 vaccines being given in the U.S., Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are currently available to people ages 18 and older.
“Clinical trials for adolescent children showed the Pfizer vaccine was safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. I’d encourage parents of children in this age group to make appointments for the vaccine to lower their risk of getting or spreading the virus,” said Dr. Tracy Lemelle, a pediatrician who is one of Blue Cross’ medical directors. “That’s especially important if you’re planning to travel this summer or if your children will be attending camps, playing sports or doing other group activities. The more people who get vaccinated, the more immunity we’re building in our community.”
If parents have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, their pediatrician is a great resource to answer questions and give them guidance, Dr. Lemelle added.
“I would much rather my patients came to me with their questions about vaccines than avoiding them out of fear or going by things they see posted on social media that may not be true. Your pediatrician is here to be a trusted information source for you and let you know how to lower your child’s risks,” she said.
Both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are conducting clinical trials of their vaccines in children. Depending on the results of those trials, these vaccines also could be expanded to include younger age groups.
“While children may not be as high risk for COVID-19 as adults, there have been cases of severe illness and even deaths among children. And, children can spread the virus to others. By having everyone who qualifies get the vaccine, you’re lowering the whole family’s risks from COVID-19,” Dr. Lemelle said.
For families with children who are younger than 12, it’s very important for their parents and other adults in their lives to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Lemelle said.
The CDC has advised that it is safe for extended families to gather in small groups as long as there are limited numbers of unvaccinated people involved. For example, grandchildren who are too young to be vaccinated can visit their grandparents if the adults have been vaccinated.
“Many of us didn’t get to spend as much time with our families over the past year, and there are lots of grandparents and aunts and uncles who are eager to see your children again,” Dr. Lemelle said. “By having the adults and older children in your family get vaccinated, it makes these gatherings as safe as possible and lets you get back to seeing the people you love.”
Things to Know About Scheduling Your Child’s COVID-19 Vaccine
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on the COVID-19 vaccine and other health topics. Subscribe to the channel to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates about COVID-19 and current health topics.
For more information, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We were recognized in 2019 and 2020 as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.