COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for Ages 12 and Over

Adolescents aged 12 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccines in New York State. Dr. Cynthia Christy answers common questions from parents & teens.

Apr. 9, 2021 2   min read

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In May, New York State marked the biggest expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to date. All individuals ages 12 and older who live, work, or study in New York State are eligible to receive the vaccine at clinics throughout the state.

Dr. Cynthia Christy, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Rochester Regional Health, answers need-to-know questions for newly eligible individuals and their parents.

Who is now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination?

Anyone over the age of 12 who lives, works, or studies in New York State is eligible to make a COVID-19 vaccination appointment throughout the state.

Can individuals over the age of 12 get any vaccine?

Of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for Emergency Use Authorization in the United States, the only one approved for individuals over the age of 12 is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Individuals of this age should be sure to make their vaccine appointment at a clinic that is offering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on the date and time of their appointment.

Why is the Pfizer/BioNTech the only vaccine approved for teens?

During clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson included adults age 18 and older in the study, while Pfizer has studied the vaccine in children as young as 12. For this reason, the FDA only authorized the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in those over the age of 12, while the other vaccines are currently approved for 18+.

Moderna has begun studies that include children as young as 6 months old, and Johnson & Johnson has announced a plan to test its vaccine in younger patients.

How should parents prepare their teens for vaccination?

All individuals under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian during their COVID-19 vaccine appointment unless they are an emancipated minor.

“A parent or legal guardian must remain present for the entirety of both first and second dose appointments, and they must sign a consent form before their child receives the vaccine,” says Dr. Christy.

Before scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, it’s important for any individual receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be sure they will be available for the second dose appointment 21 days after their first.

Is the vaccine recommended for those 12 and over?

Experts and pediatricians are recommending that those over the age of 12 get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.

“It’s important for younger people to get the vaccine too—not only so that they don’t get sick, but so that they don’t infect other people in their family, their teachers, or their housemates,” explains Dr. Christy.

Parents and guardians should have a conversation with their teenagers. Oftentimes, it’s difficult for younger people to see the bigger picture.

“Even if they don’t feel that they’re at risk, they should think about their elderly loved ones who may be at higher risk for severe illness. And they should be reminded of the importance of their role in ending the pandemic and returning to normalcy.”

Where can individuals find a COVID-19 vaccination appointment?

Understanding that patients are eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s highly encouraged to check for available appointments through:

For more information on scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, read our go-to guide.

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