Doctors in Utah are encouraging parents to get their children older than 12 vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus. In a recent virtual news conference, two pediatricians urged parents to take the steps to have kids fully immunized by the start of school in the fall. Parents with concerns should consult their family doctors, they said.

For most parents, “it tends to be more of an emotional decision, not a logical decision. That’s why I think it’s also really good to talk to someone who knows you personally,” said Dr. Tim Duffy, associate medical director for Intermountain Healthcare’s Pediatric Service Line. He said parents are hearing plenty about the coronavirus and children, but “they’re not sure what’s true and what isn’t. To have their healthcare provider interpret that for them, in the context of what’s going on in their own families, is huge.”

Although there is some risk in vaccinating adolescents and teenagers, “it’s very, very low and it is definitely less than exposure to COVID-19 for that age group,” Duffy said.

Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, is a rare side effect linked to the vaccination of males under 30 years old.

“But it is extraordinarily rare,” said Dr. Andy Pavia, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health and director of hospital epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “For every case of myocarditis that might occur with vaccination, it’s estimated that it will prevent some 14,200 cases, about 400 hospitalizations and three deaths. We’ve seen a few cases of myocarditis that have not been serious. People recover well.”

The Utah Department of Health reported that there have been less than five deaths from the virus among both Utahns less than 1 year old and those who are 1 to 14 years old, and eight deaths from COVID-19 among those 15 to 24 years old.