As summer heats up, there are lots of ways to cool off. Whether it’s going to the pool or catching a movie indoors, we all want our children to have fun this summer. But our kids don’t need the added risk of catching COVID-19, while spending time with their friends.

Luckily, we have a tool to protect our families: vaccines. Children as young as 12 years old can get vaccinated for COVID-19 right now. Altru is currently administering the Pfizer vaccine to our youth. We’ve worked in partnership with Grand Forks Public Health, as well as other local organizations, to help vaccinate nearly half of the population in Grand Forks. But we still need to reach more people in our community.

The COVID-19 vaccine is very effective. When researchers studied the efficacy in children, they found the Pfizer vaccine to be as effective in younger people as it is in adults. The Pfizer vaccine is up to 95 percent effective in children as young as 12.

Children need protection from COVID-19 both for their health and the health of family and friends. New COVID-19 variants, and more in-person activities, mean the virus is still being transmitted, and kids are still getting sick.

Getting the vaccine is the best thing to do for your child's health. Your child is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine. They can get back to activities they enjoy like sports, choir, plays and parties with some added confidence they are protected!

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The CDC is guiding the health decisions of the US and currently recommends the vaccine to children as young as 12. The WHO (World Health Organization) is charged with making health recommendations for the world and is prioritizing the vaccine for adults at this time, because of vaccine shortages.

The COVID-19 vaccine is similar to many other vaccines provided to children. The vaccine helps the body develop an immune response. If someone is exposed to COVID-19, their body will have the antibodies to fight off the virus.

Side effects of the vaccine are similar in adults and children: soreness or redness at the injection site, some fever, chills or headache. It’s important to note that these symptoms typically disappear after 36 hours. In a little more than a day, you or your child should be feeling better. It’s a small price to pay for a large benefit.

Every child has a possibility of getting sick with COVID-19. We cannot predict how sick a child will get ahead of time. We have been fortunate that a lot of children haven't gotten extremely sick with the COVID-19. But some have, and they’ve required hospitalization.

By getting immunized, it’s easier to get back to the life we had before the pandemic. We can enjoy getting together indoors, with family, without masks. Children will be able to have more freedom in school, sports, music and theater programs. Vaccines can help us all safely splash into summer and be ready for fall!

We encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against all vaccine preventable diseases. If you have questions, please call Altru’s Pediatric Clinic at 701.780.6110 or reach out using MyChart.Altru.org.

Signed by the following staff from Altru Health System: Lori Sondrol, Jennifer Peterson, Susan Zelewski, Gloria Adjekum, Thuy Nguyen, Jess Kotrba, Andrea Riendeau, Leslie Rodriguez. (All of the signees are pediatric providers at Altru Health System).