Report finds many parents are hesitant to vaccinate their younger kids for COVID-19

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Posted at 7:35 AM, May 06, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — “The bar is going to be set a lot higher for the vaccine in the case of those children in terms of safety,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Professor for USF Health.

Moderna and Pfizer recently announced they’re asking the FDA to authorize their vaccine for kids 6 months to 5 years old.

The Moderna vaccine will be two doses and the Pfizer vaccine will be three doses.

This would be the first vaccine for this age group, if authorized.

The FDA is expected to consider authorization for both sometime in June.

Originally, Pfizer had planned to have a vaccine available for kids sooner, but it’s been held up.

“What Pfizer decided to do was to give the 0-5 year old kids a dose that was 1/10th the size of the adult dose. And then the 5 year olds and up were getting a dose that was 1/3 the size of the adult dose. It turned out that 1/10th just didn’t cut it,” said Unnasch.

Now Pfizer is planning to present new data to the FDA, along with Moderna, and health officials say they’re really going to be looking closely to see if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Some parents have reported they’re hesitant to get their younger kids vaccinated.

“I totally understand that,” said Unnasch.

A new study found that about 38% of parents said they plan to wait to see how the vaccine will work for others before getting their younger kids vaccinated, while 27% said they will definitely not get their child vaccinated and 18% said they’re eager to do it right away.

“I can guarantee you that the FDA is going to be really, really looking very carefully to make sure there’s no adverse effects of the vaccine in this population,” said Unnasch.

This comes as new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics show for the third consecutive week, COVID-19 infection rates among children have seen a considerable rise.

However, in general, doctors say younger children don’t typically get severely sick from the virus. That has some parents wondering how necessary it is to get this age group vaccinated.

“When weighing the risk versus benefit of something, if a person has immunity already, then the potential benefit is not as strong if a person has had no immunity prior,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician at Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.

“If there’s a high risk person, some child who has HIV, or is on chemotherapy or has some other type of immunosuppressing condition, or a family member where if they brought it home could be a problem, then that benefit for that child that family is significantly higher than for a typical child. Especially for a typical child if they’ve had omicron already,” he added.