Justin Lemus, 15, posed for a photo with his vaccination sticker after being inoculated with the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Mount Sinai South Nassau Vaxmobile parked at the De La Salle School, Friday, May 14, 2021, in Freeport, N.Y. Mary Altaffer/AP

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After vaccination rates declined earlier this month, the United States’ campaign to get every American inoculated against COVID-19 got a much needed boost from the youths.

According to the New York Times, 2.5 million children aged 12 to 15 have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and 23 percent of kids aged 12 to 17 have received at least one dose. Earlier this month public health experts began fretting about declining vaccine rates as most of the adults who wanted a vaccine were able to access one. Now the concern is about how to get the message to anti-vaxxers and how to reached historically underserved communities.

Vaccine rates began to climb again after Pfizer authorized children ages 12 and up to receive the shot and parents, eager for their children to enjoy some semblance of a summer vacation, quickly signed them up for their shots. Of course, some of that cohort have parents who have refused vaccination themselves and will not sign their kids up. However, other children are helping their peers navigate the waters of wanting to be vaccinated but unable to do so because of their parents’ misguided beliefs, by arming them with scientific and factual information to help sway their parents. Arin Parsa, the 13-year-old founder of Teens for Vaccines told NBC News that the group has been “in the trenches helping many teens who face vaccine-hesitancy as well as extreme anti-vax views in their families.”

As a former teenager, I fully understand the importance of summer: Hanging out with your pals in an empty parking lot, endlessly annoying your family by blasting music from your bedroom, and that feeling you get when you’re developing a new crush. It’s unlikely that the pervasive misinformation about vaccines will go away anytime soon, and with thousands of new infections and hundreds of death each day, we’re not out of the woods yet, but the increase in vaccines among children is still great news. Get your kids vaccinated and let them have a magical summer. They deserve it. 

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