With only one of the three currently available COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in teens 16 or older, Revere Public Schools hosted an online Webinar last week to encourage more high schoolers to get vaccinated.
Right now the Pfizer vaccine is the only vaccine that has been approved for 16-year-olds so Revere High Schoolers that are sophomores and juniors are eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine. However, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have only been approved for individuals who are 18 and older.
“Tonight we are talking about COVID infection with an emphasis on the vaccines that are currently available, particularly for the adolescents in our community,” said Dr. Nathalee Kong at last week’s Webinar. Kong serves on Revere’s Board of Health. “There are three options in the US right now for COVID vaccines but tonight we’re going to focus on the Pfizer vaccine today because that’s the one that is available for folks 16 years and older. The other two are meant for folks 18 years and older. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) , and based on the studies that have been done so far we know that the Pfizer vaccines are safe in adolescents 16 or older and the side effects that they experienced were no different than any of the side effects that adults above the age of 18 experienced when they got the vaccine, right.”
Kong said back in March the AAP began recommending the Pfizer vaccine to anyone 16 years of age or older who wants it.
“Vaccines do work,” said Kong. “We have data here to show that onecde the vaccine rollout started in nursing homes infections significantly dropped. So the vaccines are effective at protecting the most vulnerable members of our community from getting hospitalized from getting severe symptoms of COVID and from dying with COVID.”
Kong said it is important for Revere teens 16 and older, as well as parents to get the vaccine if they have not already.
“There’s something called herd immunity that I think has been talked about a lot in the media and I’m sure you’ve heard about on the news,” explained Kong. “Herd immunity is basically what happens when a critical number of folks or a critical percentage of the population gets the vaccine and gets protected from a virus. If only a few people are vaccinated it leaves many folks vulnerable to infection–and for the person who has COVID, the COVID can jump to other folks really easily. But when a ton of folks are vaccinated you begin to kind of box out the virus and it has nowhere to go. You are essentially limiting the amount of vulnerable folks who can get it and who can spread it and effectively cutting off the spread of the virus. So this is what we’re aiming for so that we can get our kids back to school, back to prom, back to sports, just back to all the things that we used to do and enjoy.”
Kong said she’d like to see Revere achieve herd immunity by July 4. Kong reported that 31 percent of Revere residents have been vaccinated so far. To reach herd immunity, many medical experts feel 70 percent of the population or more should be vaccinated to attain herd immunity.
“I think, you know it’s all hands on deck,” she said. “Anyone who wants to get the vaccine should definitely get the vaccine so that we can all be together. You’re getting the vaccine for you and for your children. It not only protects you and your loved ones but it prevents your kids from maybe bringing the virus home and maybe passing it along to a grandparent who may be immunocompromised or maybe on chemotherapy or giving it to a sibling with asthma who may not really have the healthiest or strongest lungs. So, this is just kind of what we can all do to help each other.”
Those wishing to get a vaccine should visit Revere.org/vaccine for locations and times and which vaccines are being offered.