May 20th, 2021

// As thousands of children ages 12-15 receive COVID-19 vaccine, St. Jude pediatric virologist encourages more to get the shot

As thousands of children ages 12-15 receive COVID-19 vaccine, St. Jude pediatric virologist encourages more to get the shot

Director of St. Jude Global Infectious Disease Dr. Caniza says “vaccinating children is a key component to reaching herd immunity”

MEMPHIS, TENN. – As nearly a million children have received the COVID-19 vaccine in just the first week of authorizationMiguela Caniza, MD MPHDirector of the St. Jude Global Infectious Diseases Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital today says “the numbers are a good sign and encouraged more parents get their children vaccinated as soon as possible”:  
 

I am encouraged by the hundreds of thousands of children 12 to 15 who have already received the COVID-19 vaccine in just the first week of authorization,” said Dr. Caniza.  “Vaccinating children for COVID-19 is a key component to reaching the two-thirds threshold necessary to obtain herd immunity and stop the pandemic from continuing to spread and mutate. This is a safe and effective vaccine, and I encourage more parents to take their children to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”

When the coronavirus first emerged, Dr. Caniza urged her colleagues of infectious disease leaders from 24 countries who were gathering at St. Jude to set aside their agendas and immediately focus on the virus. Those discussions led to the establishment of a registry tracking COVID-19 in childhood cancer patients around the world. She and her colleagues were recently featured in the Commercial Appeal for their initial and continuing efforts to track the emergency of the novel coronavirus in children. 

Dr. Caniza outlines three essential reasons why it is critical to achieve the ability to immunize children, even if most of the poor outcomes and deaths from COVID-19 have been seen in older adults:

  1. Children and teenagers can also become infected and some of them with serious disease. We are still learning about this infection and their consequences including those long term called the post-COVID conditions including long-COVID, multiorgan effects of COVID, and the effect of COVID treatment or hospitalization (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html#:~:text=Multiorgan%20effects%20can%20affect%20most,(MIS)%20and%20autoimmune%20conditions )
  2. Children and teenagers are highly mobiles attending schools, sports, and intersecting more often with various age groups including with their caretakers and older family members.
  3. Because of the high percent of children and teenagers being asymptomatic or with minimal symptoms, most likely they will be effectively spreading during a very contagious period, and even more so, if they don’t follow the standard precautions (distancing, using masks and practicing hand hygiene).

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