Op-Ed: Vaccinate Children to Help End COVID-19

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The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine available to people ages 12-17.

Michael Young, Writer

Last month, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to include people aged 12-15. This means that any high school student and many middle school students in the U.S. can get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The decision comes after Massachusetts opened appointment eligibility to individuals ages 16 and up on April 19. Now, appointments are not needed to receive a first dose of the vaccine as several MassVax mass vaccination sites are allowing walk-ins.

With vaccines, people are finally able to take their masks off. As Massachusetts leads with one of the highest vaccination rates in the U.S., Governor Charlie Baker rescinded the state’s mask mandate last week.

Opening vaccine eligibility to children and teenagers is our next step towards herd immunity in the population, according to a report by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. While some adults continue to refuse vaccinations, teenagers who want to be vaccinated can take their place.

Teenagers and children under the age of 15 like Ugo Adiele ’23 expressed frustration over the “somewhat arbitrary” required age of 16.

“It was honestly very ironic to hear that the vaccine had become available for 15-year-olds right before I turned 16, so the wait lost all of its worth,” Adiele said. “Looking back, it’s funnier than anything and I’m just glad more people will be able to better protect themselves and those around them from covid.”

However, now with vaccines becoming available to younger teens, and middle schoolers, it is much easier to achieve herd immunity with a higher percentage of those who can get vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins report.

There are many reasons why people refuse to get vaccinated—not just conspiracy theories. Some feel the vaccine was rushed, and others do not see a need to get vaccinated if they are not at a high risk of COVID-19. Others have health issues that may prevent them from getting vaccinated.

However, herd immunity is critical to defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. Younger teenagers, eager to get the vaccine, can fill the gaps that were originally open to adults.

In truth, everyone who can get the vaccine should get the vaccine, it’s not just about one, it’s about society. Science has proved that with 80 percent of the population vaccinated, things could return to a more normal world.

With nearly everyone being eligible, many vaccination sites are starting to experience a lack in demand for new doses.

Even if one is far from likely to have severe effects from COVID-19, it is still important to get vaccinated to progress towards herd immunity.

With herd immunity, schools and businesses could go fully in-person, indoor activities will become easier, and social distancing and masking could become a thing of the past.

Vaccinations are the key to the end of our COVID-19 world, and could go back to a “normal” of sorts.