On Wednesday, pediatric experts weighed in on whether children should get vaccinated and answered some pressing questions from parents, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
New York state’s 1.5 million children ages 5 to 11 could be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Thanksgiving.
“These are really good vaccines. They’re safe. They’ve been tested. They’re effective. They’re free and easily available,” said Dr. Emily Lutterloh, the state’s director of epidemiology.
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On Tuesday, the FDA advisory panel voted 17-0 to approve the Pfizer shot for young kids after 4,500 children in a study were given Pfizer’s pediatric dose, which was found to be 91% effective in preventing COVID.
“Those pediatric doses are one-third of the adult doses and were chosen because they optimized the immune response to the vaccine and minimized the side effects of the shots,” CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez said.
When asked about side effects, including ones that can’t be anticipated right now and about the sample size in the testing, former Centers for Disease Control epidemiologist Dr. Robert Amler said, “The committee evaluated that carefully.”
Amler spent decades developing vaccines.
“Even though there are still going to be some uncertainties, the certainty is that COVID infection can be serious. It can kill,” Amler said.
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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 6 million children in the U.S. have contracted COVID, and 8,000 have ended up in the hospital. Of those, more than 100 have died. Still, parents are split on whether their kids should get the shots, with a new poll showing only one-third are fully on board.
“I think it’s a good idea because everybody can be safe,” Juan Rivas said.
“I think they’re just too small and this is something that’s just too new,” Jessica Hurtado said.
Some parents say they’re hesitant because COVID doesn’t effect kids the way it does adults, but doctors say that’s not always true.
“I think in kids it is very serious — 1 in 5 cases are in children. We have 8,000 hospitalizations, 4,000 of which are the severe multi-systemic inflammatory disease, which can be very deadly,” pediatric immunologist Dr. Purvi Parikh said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said 370 providers across the state have already pre-ordered 380,000 pediatric doses and they will offer the shots at pharmacies, schools and pediatricians’ offices.
“I’m a parent. I think most parents are going to feel most comfortable in a place where they know the person administering that shot,” Hochul said.
State health officials say they are ready to begin rolling out the vaccine for young children as soon as they are officially approved.
The CDC is meeting next week and is expected to follow the FDA’s endorsement.