(CNN) — While it’s a bit of a bummer to think about going back to school even before July 4, in many parts of the country, if you want your child to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the time school starts, you have to act fast.
Many large school systems, including Atlanta, Fort Myers, Florida, Flagstaff, Arizona, and the entire state of Hawaii, start school in the first two weeks of August.
It takes five weeks to be fully vaccinated with Pfizer’s vaccine against covid, the only one licensed for adolescents 12 to 17 years old. That means, for example, Atlanta students must receive their first vaccination by July 1 to be fully immunized on the first day of school on August 5.
Vaccinate them. The vaccine provides, without a doubt, the best protection against COVID, and we want our schools to be safe and we want our children to go back to school, ”said Dr. William Schaffner, Vaccine Advisor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have two grandchildren in that age group, and they have been vaccinated, so don’t just do what I tell you, but do what my family has done,” he added.
The Pfizer vaccine is given in two doses three weeks apart. After the second dose, it takes two weeks for a person to be considered fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Parents’ concerns about heart disease
Vaccination for children ages 12-15 began as a huge success shortly after May 10, when the FDA cleared Pfizer’s vaccine for that age group. In less than a week, 600,000 children in that group were vaccinated, according to the CDC.
But the numbers plummeted on May 23, a day after articles appeared in the media about a possible link to the vaccine and myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, in young people.
The seven-day average of the first doses administered in this age group peaked at 220,401 on May 22, the day before the articles. That number fell to a low of 62,424 on June 20, the most recent day for which data was available.
It turned out that the link to myocarditis was real, but most cases were mild and usually resolved quickly.
FDA Covid-19 Vaccine Warning
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added a warning about the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis, inflammation of the tissue around the heart, to the fact sheets for the Pfizer and Moderna covid-19 vaccines.
According to CDC data, of more than 300 million doses administered, there have been 1,226 preliminary reports of myocarditis, and men ages 12 to 24 have unusually high rates.
That risk pales in comparison to Covid-19 risks, says the CDC.
Among male adolescents ages 12 to 17, CDC researchers estimate that for every 1 million second-dose vaccinations, 5,700 Covid-19 cases, 215 hospitalizations, 71 admissions to intensive care units, and two deaths would be prevented. It is estimated that there may be between 56 and 69 cases of myocarditis.
Schaffner said he understood that the risk of myocarditis could make parents nervous, but that the risk of Covid-19 should make them much more nervous.
“People think that doing nothing is not a decision. But not vaccinating your child is a decision, and it is a decision that puts them at risk, “he said.
Spread the message to vaccinate against covid-19
As of June 24, nearly 1 in 5 children ages 12 to 15 were fully vaccinated, and nearly 1 in 3 teens ages 16 and 17 were fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.
Schaffner and others said they felt the US Department of Health and Human Services hasn’t done enough marketing to parents about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination.
«The message about the vaccination against covid has not been optimal. The federal government is moving very, very slowly, ”said Schaffner, a member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
“I’ve been talking to other moms and there just hasn’t been much outreach,” added Dr. Leana Wen, CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore health commissioner.
All Lyft and Uber should have ads. I drive from Baltimore to [Washington] DC and I don’t see posters about vaccination. Why aren’t they everywhere? He wondered.
On its website, HHS mentions paid TV ads aimed at parents and teens.
An HHS spokesperson also pointed to a Facebook council on May 26 on families and vaccination. Also, a toolkit for parents of adolescents to obtain information about covid-19 vaccination and help find a vaccination site.
The spokesperson added that the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and the director of US Health, Dr. Vivek Murthy, made a press call with “blogger moms” and media targeting parents and women.
Murthy told CNN that on June 16, the government launched a student chapter of the COVID-19 Community Body.
«Students from all over the country are now reaching out among peers [para ayudar] other teens and young adults to understand the facts about the vaccine, ”said Murthy.
Justin Lape, Keri Enriquez, and John Bonifield contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism