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'Everyone needs to be vaccinated,' even teens, an Oklahoma doctor says
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'Everyone needs to be vaccinated,' even teens, an Oklahoma doctor says

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While COVID-19 poses little risk to a teenager’s longterm health, vaccines could help young people avoid spreading the virus to more vulnerable populations, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said Thursday.

While COVID-19 poses little risk to a teenager’s longterm health, being vaccinated could help young people avoid spreading the virus to more vulnerable populations, the president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association said Thursday.

“People will ask, ‘Why do they need a vaccine if they aren’t likely to have a serious illness?’” said Dr. Mary Clarke. “I tell them, ‘They can still pass the virus to parents, to aunts and uncles, to grandparents.’”

So far, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children 12 and older in the United States, Clarke said. Two other vaccines, those distributed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, can be given to people 16 and older.

The Oklahoma Alliance for Healthy Families hosted a brief Facebook live chat for Clarke to take questions from the public early Thursday afternoon. Several parents focused on the risk of long term side effects for teens who take the vaccine.

“There’s no way to answer that question,” Clarke said, acknowledging that experts can’t be 100% certain that side effects won’t emerge in the distant future. But it is “very, very, very unlikely,” she said.

“The risk from COVID right now is much higher than the theoretical risk 20 or 30 years from now,” Clarke said, adding that she wouldn’t hesitate to give her own children the vaccine. “Everyone needs to be vaccinated.”

Tulsa Health Department's Dr. Bruce Dart addresses the question on April 29, 2021

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