By Jennifer Igbonoba
Vaccines and kids.
Two words that when mixed together can cause mass hysteria.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, it is time to turn our attention to the younger citizens of our society. It is time to explain to teenagers why they should take the vaccine.
The first, and by far most obvious reason for taking the vaccine, is to slow the spread of the virus. Before vaccines were widely available to the American public, masks were used as a way to slow the spread due to COVID-19 being an airborne virus.
Now, with mask requirements being more lenient in Texas, vaccines serve as the tool to slow the spread of the virus and its more contagious variants; the most common one right now being the B.1.617.2 (Delta).
Historically speaking, the widespread use of vaccinations for a particular disease can significantly lower its transmission and, in the case of smallpox, eradicate it, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The second reason teens should get vaccinated is to protect those who are unvaccinated. At this stage in the pandemic and vaccine layout, it is easy to dismiss those who are unvaccinated as anti-vaxxing conspiracy theorists.
However, that is not always the case.
Currently in Texas, children under the age of 12 are not authorized to get the COVID-19 vaccine, which places them more at risk to contract the Delta variant.
Also, while not unauthorized to get the vaccine, people with less common underlying conditions like those allergic to certain ingredients in the mRNA vaccines may not be able to take the vaccine because the side effects could worsen their condition. In order to protect those who are medically not able to get vaccinated, widespread vaccination among those who can is important.
Finally, you must protect yourself.
When I talk to my peers, most tell me that because they have a lower chance of dying from the virus, they should not worry about or get the vaccine.
Despite that belief having a factual basis, according to reports from the CDC it does not put into context the long term effects of the virus.
While young teens are less likely to die from the virus compared to older adults, they are also just as likely to be asymptomatic and unaware they have the viral particles in their immune system.
The strain the virus puts on the immune system distracts it from defending the body against other minor illnesses which can cause those small illnesses to have a greater effect on the body than they usually do.
Throughout this pandemic, we have all missed out on typical American milestone events; like proms, graduations, birthday parties, and all the events we’ve been looking forward to pre-pandemic.
Now, we finally have a chance to return to a somewhat normal life by being safe and protecting those around us.
Together, we can all slowly limit the spread and potentially eradicate the virus, by simply getting vaccinated.
Jennifer Igbonoba is a senior at Rockwall High School in Rockwall, Texas and she is a Scripps Howard Foundation Emerging Journalists Intern with Texas Metro News.