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Get Ready for School With the COVID-19 Vaccine

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As the Delta variant fuels a surge of coronavirus cases across the region, and as families gear up for the next school year, don’t forget all children ages 12 and older can get vaccinated for protection from COVID-19.

“Precautions like face masking and physical distancing are important, but vaccination is the most powerful tool we have against illness and death from COVID-19,” said Pediatric Hospitalist Julia Paz, DO. “Though breakthrough cases – meaning cases in people who have been vaccinated – are big news, the rate of COVID infection in the vaccinated population is very low.”

According to a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 1.9% of coronavirus cases in Oregon have been among vaccinated people. 

Hospitals are experiencing a surge of patients with COVID-19, which has been attributed to increased social activities this summer and the Delta variant. The vast majority of these patients, about 94%, are not vaccinated according to the Kaiser Family Foundation report. Though there is not hard data yet available, doctors report seeing younger and younger coronavirus patients admitted for hospital care. 

“On a recent day, Samaritan Health Services’ five hospitals had 25 COVID-19 inpatients ranging in ages from 17 to 86,” said Dr. Paz. “Not one of those patients had been vaccinated.” 

Maximum protection kicks in about two weeks after the second shot with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after one shot with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Dr. Paz recommends vaccination as soon as possible for youths ages 12 and older to be as protected as possible by the time school starts in the fall.

Dr. Paz is also the mother of an elementary school student and a high school student. Her 15-year-old son was vaccinated as soon as he qualified. 

“I carefully reviewed all of the information I could find, and I trust the science. This vaccine has been proven very safe and very effective,” she said. “It was such a relief to know my son would be protected.”

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination for youths ages 12 and up, and to hear answers to common questions, check out this recent webinar with Pediatrician Eddie Frothingham, MD, and Infectious Disease Specialist Adam Brady, MD.

Looking for a coronavirus vaccination appointment or walk-in option? Visit samhealth.org/GetTheVaccine.