4 Reasons Young People Need a COVID-19 Vaccine
After a year of battling the COVID-19 virus throughout the United States, new vaccines were welcomed with open arms in December 2020. Healthcare workers, teachers, elderly adults, and others at high risk received the vaccine first. Acceptance of the vaccine was high, with close to 90 percent of adults over age 65 now vaccinated against COVID-19.
As the vaccine has become available to younger age groups, however, acceptance has begun to wane. About 70–80 percent of middle-aged adults had received at least one dose in August 2021, while only 60 percent of adults ages 25–39 and 57 percent of adults ages 18–24 had received a dose. While younger adults were not hit as hard by the virus initially as older adults, getting the vaccine is still critical to their health. Here’s why young adults should consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Stop the Spread and Control Variants
The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to control the spread of the virus and stop the emergence of new variants. As the virus works its way through the population, it mutates and changes. The more the virus is allowed to spread, the more opportunities it has to mutate. While some changes may not significantly alter the way the virus affects people, other mutations can make it stronger and more dangerous.
Such is the case with the Delta variant. It is not the first mutation the virus has seen, but the Delta variant is making a big impact. Experts say it spreads twice as much as the original virus and may have a higher risk of severe infection.
Lower Risk of Infection
The available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against infections. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines have about 90 percent efficacy against the COVID-19 virus. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approximately 72 percent effective. What’s more, all three vaccines have even higher effectiveness against hospitalization and death.
The Delta variant is still new, and health officials are studying how well the vaccines work against the mutation. However, early data is showing vaccines protect well against COVID-19 variants.
Young People Have Risks
Early on in the pandemic, the risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19 was higher in older individuals. Younger people may have a false sense of security, believing their risk of serious illness is too low to worry about. Unfortunately, young people can get very sick and even die from COVID-19. In fact, more than 10,000 people under age 40 have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
As new variants continue to develop, the risk increases for lower age groups. Health officials have reported higher numbers of children and young adults infected and hospitalized with the delta variant of COVID-19.
Vaccine Side Effects are Better than COVID-19 Side Effects
Some people may hesitate to get the COVID-19 vaccine because of reported side effects. Common side effects of the vaccine include soreness in the arm, chills, headache, and fatigue. In very rare cases, inflammation of the heart has been reported in young adults. While these side effects may sound unpleasant or even scary, most of the symptoms will resolve on their own or with treatment. On the other hand, COVID-19 can have long-term effects like fatigue, concentration problems, shortness of breath, and others that persist for months after infection.
“Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is critical to slow the spread of the virus and avoid hospitalization or death,” says Sarah Hilton, a registered nurse. “Younger individuals can be infected and become seriously ill from COVID-19, especially as new variants emerge.”
Beating the COVID-19 virus is a community effort, and the best tool available is the vaccine. The vaccines available are highly effective and can help people of all ages stay healthy and stop the spread of the virus. So if you are unvaccinated, act now, and use this tool to find vaccination sites near you.