MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There’s some good news in the push to get children back to school and achieve national herd immunity.

Pfizer has announced its vaccine is 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children as young as 12.

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As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Wednesday, schools in the Maplewood-South Orange school district have been all virtual for more than a year. The Pfizer news gives renewed hope for a return back to schools with teachers and friends.

“I would get them vaccinated,” Rebecca Kahane said. “I have more concern what would happed if they got COVID versus the vaccine.”

The majority of parents Baker spoke with said they were excited about the news and ready to restore a sense of normalcy for their families.

“That’s my future. Got to make sure they stay alive and healthy,” said Jose Marrero.

“Great idea. Glad they did the testing. I wish 11-year-olds included because that’s how old my grandson is,” said Kathleen Howell.


After promising results, Pfizer says it plans to apply for expanded emergency use authorization for children 12-15 right away. That means reduced occupancy classrooms could fully open again with vaccinations beginning before the start of the next school year.

“I would expect the FDA to expedite its review of their data and possibly grant that authorization within weeks. Meaning that with enough vaccine supply, which should be available, kids could be fully vaccinated in time for the start of the start of the school year this fall,” said CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez.

But some are skeptical. Liz Evans’ kids have been learning remotely for more than a year. She said kids are so low risk already she questions if vaccinating them will make a difference.

“I’m not sure that any, any new information is necessarily going to help things get back to normal,” Evans said.

Dr. Purvi Parikh told CBS2’s Jessica Layton kids need to be vaccinated because they’re a big part of the herd immunity puzzle.

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“There has been over 3 million COVID cases in children, alone,” Parikh said, adding when asked if there are any issues in children, whether autoimmune or allergy-related, that should make a parent be hesitant, “No, it’s similar to adults. Those people actually need the vaccine more.”

And with a nationwide spike happening now, Parikh said this is no time for adults to let their guard down.

Based on new predictions, Gov. Phil Murphy warned the situation with positive cases will get even worse mid-April.

“We would reach a daily high of new cases April 18. We will also hit our high total hospitalizations on that same day,” the governor said.

Murphy, however, said he is optimistic, but added there’s still a major vaccine supply and demand imbalance.

“Any amount of more vaccine or more eligibility, if we can do it methodically, responsibly, is a good thing,” he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said vaccinating children help move the country’s largest school district forward.

“Our schools are the safest place to be in New York City right now,” de Blasio said. “We are already planning for September to bring all of our kids back, for everyone who is ready to come back. As this progresses it, it just makes it better.”

“What do you say to parents who may have some hesitancy?” asked Baker.

“I say that we have to believe the science. I say that we have to trust the scientists. The scientists have shown us that this vaccine is efficacious, and that it’s safe. We are vaccinating children anyway for many other things,” said Dr. Perry Halkitis, dean of public health at Rutgers.

Pfizer also plans to test its vaccine in even younger children, paving the way for elementary school students in the coming months.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker and Jessica Layton contributed to this report

CBSNewYork Team