COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens could help defeat the coronavirus

Teens who are 16 and 17 already can walk in and get COVID-19 vaccines. The FDA has approved COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens, 12 to 15. Walk-in vaccine clinics should make vaccines for children and teens a breeze for parents.
May 7, 2021
child or teen getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Children as young as 12 now can get COVID-19 vaccines. Photo: Getty Images.

COVID-19 vaccines for younger teens and children could be a game changer in the efforts to defeat the coronavirus.

That’s because children and teens from birth to age 18 make up about one-quarter of the U.S. population. As health officials work to get more people vaccinated, adding children to the eligible pool can dramatically increase vaccinations. Young people also will be safer going back to schools in the fall if they are fully vaccinated.

-With new federal guidance this week, children and teens ages 12 and older now can get COVID-19 vaccines.

Here are the details:

Who is UCHealth vaccinating?

UCHealth is currently providing COVID-19 vaccines for Colorado residents age 12 and older.

How to get the COVID-19 vaccine:

UCHealth is offering two options to get the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Schedule an appointment through My Health Connection.
  • Walk in to any of our vaccine clinics. Go to uchealth.org/covidvaccine or click here for locations and hours.

To schedule your COVID-19 vaccine, please use My Health Connection, UCHealth’s online patient portal. You do not need to be a UCHealth patient in order to get a vaccine. Go to uchealth.org/myhealthconnection, click on Appointments > Schedule Appointment.

If you don’t have access to a computer or smart phone, call the vaccine hotline:

UCHealth COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline – 720.462.2255 (Español – 844.945.2508):

Monday through Friday – 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For those 12-17 years old, for your first vaccine dose, you must:

  • Bring a parent or guardian with you, OR
  • Have your parent or guardian sign the Vaccine Consent Form for Minors and bring it with you. This form can be found at uchealth.org/covidvaccine.

Is the vaccine safe for children?

Yes. The Pfizer vaccine trial results show that the vaccine is safe and effective for children age 12 or older. The recent Pfizer trial included thousands of children ages 12 through 17. Clinical trial results showed that the vaccine was 100 percent effective. Of the group that received the vaccine (and not the placebo), none of them got COVID-19.

Children had side effects similar to young adults. The main side effects are pain at injection site, fever, and feeling achy or tired. These were experienced more often after the second dose of the vaccine and went away within a few days.

Why should I get my child vaccinated?

While children are at a lower risk of serious illness from COVID-19, they make up a larger share of the new virus cases across the U.S. as more adults get vaccinated. Children can still have symptoms and spread the virus to the adults around them. And doctors don’t always know which children are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 and need hospital care. Getting a vaccine will lower the chance of illness for all children.

People under age 21 make up about 25% of the U.S. population. If many children get a COVID-19 vaccine, the chance of reaching herd immunity – when lots of people are immune to a disease – goes up.

There are many safe and effective vaccines for children for diseases like whooping cough, measles and meningitis. Providing vaccines for COVID-19 will become a standard measure of care to protect children.

How teens and young children can get COVID-19 vaccines through UCHealth

For those ages 12 to 17:

For your first dose at a UCHealth vaccine clinic, you must:

  • Bring a parent or guardian with you, OR
  • Have your parent or guardian sign the Vaccine Consent Form for Minors.
  • Be sure to bring the form with you to get your vaccine.

There are two options to get the COVID-19 vaccine:

I missed my appointment for my second dose of the vaccine. What should I do?

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require a second dose. It is important to get your second dose within 42 days of your first dose, and we strongly recommend that you get both doses of the vaccine to help stop the spread of COVID-19 variants.

Where are UCHealth’s vaccine clinics?

Please click here for the exact locations and hours for walk-in vaccine clinics at UCHealth.

Vaccines are available at the following UCHealth locations:

    • University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora
    • Highlands Ranch Hospital, Highlands Ranch
    • Longs Peak Hospital, Longmont
    • Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins
    • Medical Center of the Rockies, Loveland
    • Greeley Hospital, Greeley
    • Yampa Valley Medical Center, Steamboat Springs
    • Memorial Hospital North, Colorado Springs
    • Memorial Administrative Center, Colorado Springs

About the author

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon is a proud Colorado native. She attended Colorado College, thanks to a merit scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation, and worked as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park during summer breaks from college. She is also a storyteller. She loves getting to know UCHealth patients and providers and sharing their inspiring stories.

Katie spent years working as a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News and was a finalist with a team of reporters for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a deadly wildfire in Glenwood Springs in 1994. Katie was the first reporter in the U.S. to track down and interview survivors of the tragic blaze, which left 14 firefighters dead.

She covered an array of beats over the years, including the environment, politics, education and criminal justice. She also loved covering stories in Congress and at the U.S. Supreme Court during a stint as the Rocky’s reporter in Washington, D.C.

Katie then worked as a reporter for an online health news site before joining the UCHealth team in 2017.

Katie and her husband Cyrus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, have three children. The family loves traveling together anywhere from Glacier National Park to Cuba.

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