A lot of parents may still have questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine for their children, and new research shows only 3 in 10 parents of children 12 to 15 years old say they will get their child vaccinated for COVID-19 right away when a vaccine is authorized.
On Monday, the FDA expanded the emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to include kids ages 12 to 15.
Clare Jackson’s 14-year-old daughter just became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine Monday. Jackson spoke to ABC Action News before the eligibility changed, explaining why her daughter is ready to roll up her sleeve.
“She’s like, 'yeah we need to do this,'” said Jackson. “We need to, and those of us who can do it should do it to protect those that can’t, if for no other reason, and [her kids] are ready to get back to life.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation released new research from its ongoing research project last week.
It found among parents who have at least one child between 12 to 15 years old, 3 in 10 parents say they will get their child vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is available, 26% will wait to see how it’s working, 18% will vaccinate only if their child’s school requires it and 23% say they will definitely not get their child vaccinated.
Dr. Allison Messina, the chairman of the Division of Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, thinks it says there’s a little hesitation out there, but she says she’s not too discouraged at this point.
“I think that as you start to see more people vaccinated in that age group, as friends and family and relatives get vaccinated, I think that people do become more comfortable with the idea of getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Messina.
Dr. Messina explained study results showed the vaccine proved to be highly effective in this age group, with side effects similar to those in adults. She says if kids aren’t vaccinated, they’re still at risk of potentially getting sick and spreading it.
“If their parents are vaccinated, that’s a huge sigh of relief for the parents, but let’s say if grandparents or older aunts and uncles or other people in the child’s life who aren’t vaccinated, they can get sick too,” said Messina.
Dr. Michael Teng, an associate professor at the University of South Florida, explained when we have a good chunk of the population that’s under 18, you can’t really get to herd immunity until we start vaccinating children.
“I think we’re going to start seeing transmission go down. I think this is a really good thing, and anything we can do to keep it down and keep kind of taking away all the susceptible people that can spread the infection is a good thing,” said Dr. Teng.
The Florida Department of Health (FLDOH) said it continues to follow state statutes that cover what immunizations are required for entry into Florida schools, and says currently, the COVID-19 vaccine isn’t a required vaccine.
ABC Action News also reached out to Tampa Bay area school districts to see if they plan on hosting COVID vaccine clinics for this age group if it’s authorized. So far, many said they don’t have plans to do so at this time.
“If you think about the fact that this vaccine has been given to now hundreds of millions of adults and we really haven’t seen any safety signal that is concerning, I think that should be very reassuring to parents who want to get their kids vaccinated and protect them from a disease that is not going to go away,” said Dr. Messina.
As a parent, Jackson says other parents should do their research and talk about their concerns to come to a decision for their family. She explained the vaccine will give her a sense of relief, even if her kids are exposed.
“Even if they did [get exposed], it might be just a little bit, 'oh I don’t feel so great,'" said Jackson. "But just that okay, I don’t have to worry so much about rushing them to the hospital for this thing."