Tampa Bay area doctors share what's known about Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in kids age 12-15

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Posted at 6:29 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 18:29:13-04

The FDA could soon make a decision on whether to let younger kids get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Tampa Bay area doctors are breaking down what parents and children can expect when more kids can roll up their sleeves.

As a 13-year-old, Peyton Finch will be the last in her family to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She says she’s ready for her dose.

“I want to get the vaccine because I’m really into things like arts and performing,” said Peyton. “I was just in orchestra class, and we’re not allowed to have live concerts and stuff, and I really want to do that stuff again.”

ABC News has learned the FDA may decide to allow children 12 to 15 years old to get Pfizer's vaccine as early as this week. In March, the company shared that in a Phase 3 trial for kids 12 to 15 years old, its vaccine showed 100 percent efficacy and robust antibody responses.

“I do think it would be extremely challenging to reach herd immunity without having kids vaccinated because that’s a huge chunk of the population that is now hopefully going to be eligible for this vaccine,” said Dr. Allison Messina, the chairman of the Division of Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

Pfizer said its vaccine was well tolerated, too, with side effects generally consistent with those seen in participants who were 16 to 25 years old.

“We expect that probably the 12 to 15-year-old group will have similar effects,” said Messina. “They might not feel so great the day after that second dose: sore arms, muscle aches, headache, even some low-grade fever was fairly common. But typically, those side effects resolve on their own and only last one to two days.”

Messina explained when they talk about the concept of herd immunity, she says the more people in a population we get vaccinated, the better it is not only for the person getting vaccinated but also for everyone else in the community.

Dr. Claudia Espinosa, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at USF Health, says for families who are hesitant, you should talk to your pediatrician you trust.

“So far, millions of people in the whole world have been vaccinated with this vaccine, and they have done well, most of them,” said Dr. Espinosa. “When you compare the rates of adverse events, there are so few compared with the millions of people that did not have any problems.”

As a decision looms, ABC Action News checked in with Tampa Bay area school districts to see if they would require students that are authorized to get the COVID-19 vaccine to be vaccinated for the new school year. Some districts said they don’t have plans to require the vaccine, while others deferred to the state.

ABC Action News also reached out to the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH) and Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) on if they’d require the vaccine for students, and we are still waiting to hear back.

“I support any parent’s decision based on what they think is right for their children,” said Christian Finch, Peyton’s dad. “It’s their job. It’s their responsibility to make those choices and decisions. For us for the active lives that we live, we felt that this was the right course of action for us.”

While the Finch family waits for the green light, Peyton explained how she’ll feel to finally get her turn.

“It’s like a weight kind of lifted off your shoulders,” said Peyton.