Yes, they should.
In the early months of the pandemic, scientists learned that children and teens were less likely to get severely ill with COVID-19, though some still became very sick. So far, children make up about 13 percent of COVID-19 cases overall in the U.S., with adolescents more likely to develop severe disease like adults, says Kathryn Edwards, MD, scientific director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program and a professor of pediatrics.
But they account for nearly a quarter of new cases, and some states, including Colorado and Michigan, are seeing a rapid spread of coronavirus infections among children.
Some of that is because as adults get vaccinated, they’re less likely to get infected, making children a greater proportion of overall cases. But another reason, Poland says, is that strains of the virus now circulating—such as the B.1.1.7 variant, currently the main strain in the U.S.—are more infectious. And that makes vaccinating children, who have always faced some risk from the virus, even more urgent.
“The estimate is there have been around 300 to 600 pediatric COVID deaths,” Poland says. “That’s likely to increase if we don’t stop transmission by getting as many people immunized as possible.”
Vaccination also helps prevent other serious outcomes in children, Edwards says. In rare cases, children who have had COVID-19 have developed a condition, known as MIS-C, that can cause organ damage and even death. Scientists are also following children who have gotten COVID-19 to see if any have lingering problems, especially cardiac issues.