Health experts fear parents won't vaccinate younger kids for COVID-19 when FDA authorizes shot

Gigi Morgan Clark
Posted at 6:42 AM, Oct 07, 2021

TAMPA — Currently, only kids 12 and over can get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Vaccine manufacturers are working on getting a shot approved for kids ages 5-11.

“The Pfizer company has put forth a proposal to the FDA to get emergency use authorization for this age group,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician at Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.

Pfizer announced on Thursday they officially submitted their request to the FDA for emergency use of their vaccine in kids 5-11.

“Moderna will also be following in the next few weeks,” said Dr. Carina Rodriguez, Division Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of South Florida.

Health experts say getting a vaccine approved for younger kids will be critical in protecting them from the virus.

“We’re seeing many, many children get very sick and thousands every week being hospitalized,” said Dr. Lee Savio Beers, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Like 27% of the cases of COVID really are in children and adolescents in the country,” said Rodriguez.

“It is happening. I can tell you from my own experience that really most of, if not all, of patients I have seen really have not received the COVID vaccine,” she added.

Experts say vaccinating this age group is key to fighting this pandemic.

“When you’re talking about age 5-12, that’s a really, really big range,” said Berger. “Herd immunity is the way that we get out of this pandemic."

Some doctors now worry parents won’t take their kids to get vaccinated once the shot is approved.

“COVID can be very serious in kids and we want to make sure that they’re protected and we want to make sure that they’re as safe and as healthy as they can be,” said Beers.

New research from the Ad Council shows one in five parents are undecided about vaccinating their child.

“We are seeing that parents have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine for their children and I want to emphasize that that’s totally normal,” said Beers.

“We want to answer your questions. We know you’re a parent, we know that’s your job and we want to make sure that you have all the information you need,” she added.

Health experts nationwide are urging parents to contact their pediatrician and ask questions now to make an informed decision.

“Right now approximately 55% of our teenagers that can receive have vaccine, have received a vaccine so still there is room for improvement there,” said Rodriguez.

“Parents can feel really confident that this is a safe and effective vaccine. The process that the FDA goes through when they look at the vaccine and all the data behind it is really very careful and cautious and rigorous,” said Beers.

Doctors say data show the primary side effects from the vaccine in kids are similar to adults with mild pain at the injection site, some redness, fatigue, and fever.

There are have been some rare instances of Myocarditis in kids, which is an inflammation of the heart.

“It’s a very rare event and usually it’s short-term,” said Rodriguez.

“There is a very, very rare potential association with a rare condition called Myocarditis which is an inflammation of the heart and I think that is something parents wonder about and there’s a couple really important points. First, is that it’s a very, very rare potential association with the vaccine and in fact, the incidents of Myocarditis after you’ve been infected with the virus are much much higher. The other really important thing to know is the cases where we have seen this in adolescents, it’s almost exclusively been a very mild case and so it sounds a little scary but children have recovered very quickly often with just simple treatment such as ibuprofen,” said Beers.

“The risk of you know your child having severe disease due to COVID is much greater than any potential side effects,” said Rodriguez.

The FDA advisory panel is set to meeting October 26 to discuss authorizing the Pfizer vaccine for kids 5-11.

Experts expect emergency use authorization soon after that.