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Douglas County News | National News | Statewide News | 07/15/21

Douglas County Health Department encourages parents to get kids vaccinated now

Julie Anderson, Omaha World Herald

Parents, let’s do the math.

Doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, the only one approved for youths 12 and older, are to be given at least 21 days apart. It takes 14 days after the second shot for the immune system to hit full stride and for people to be considered fully vaccinated.

That works out to a minimum of 35 days. Thirty-five days from Wednesday falls on Aug. 18, the day schools in the Omaha Public Schools district fully open for the fall session. Schools in the Millard Public Schools district start classes Aug. 11, and the Papillion La Vista Community Schools start Aug. 12.

The midsummer wakeup call means parents who want their 12-and-older students vaccinated by the start of school, or shortly thereafter, need to move quickly.

The Douglas County Health Department is encouraging parents to consider the shots for their teens. Several pop-up clinics are scheduled this week at Boys & Girls Club locations in the metro area. A complete schedule is on the health department’s website, www.douglascountyhealth.com.

“If they don’t get it now, they can still get it later,” said Dr. Anne O’Keefe, the health department’s senior epidemiologist. “It’s better late than never. But we’re getting to the time where they would need to do it pretty quickly if they’re gong to be vaccinated by the time school starts.”

While kids aren’t at high risk of serious illness compared to adults, serious cases can and do occur among youths. And some go on to have long-term effects from the virus.

“It’s not just to protect Grandma and Grandpa, it’s to protect them,” O’Keefe said of shots for kids.

While the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received increased reports of heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults after vaccination, the agency notes that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks from the disease itself. Most who received care responded well to treatment and rest and quickly felt better. The agency continues to recommend vaccination for everyone 12 and older.

“You’re much safer with the vaccine,” O’Keefe said. “We don’t even know everything COVID is causing yet.”