HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Children ages 12 to 15 are now eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Many parents across the country are left with the decision on whether or not it’s the best choice to vaccinate their child.
The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics is speaking out to answer commonly asked questions by concerned parents. She said it is a parent’s job to protect their child, so to have questions on vaccine efficacy for their kids is only natural, especially since they’ll be the ones giving consent for the child’s vaccination.
Dr. Lee Beers said clinical trials show the vaccine is safe and effective for the latest eligible group. It comes at the right time too, she says, as COVID-19 cases in children have increased.
“As more adults get vaccinated and things are starting to open up a little bit, the percentage of cases, of new COVID cases, in our children is increasing. It’s almost 20 percent of new cases now,” Dr. Beers said. “If we have a safe and effective vaccine to protect them with, it’s a really important tool in our toolbox to be using.”
She said it not only protects the kids, but those in the community as well.
“By getting vaccinated we’re actually helping protect those around us, so our neighbors, our friends and the little kids who live next door who aren’t old enough to get vaccinated yet,” she said.
With the success of trials for teens, a new set of clinical trials are underway for an even younger group. Dr. Beers said by the fall, there is potential for a dose of vaccine that for those ages 6 and up, or potentially even ages 2 and up.
“I actually know families whose children are enrolled in those. Many pediatricians have enrolled their kids in those trials because they feel very confident in them,” Dr. Beers said.
Dr. Beers has two kids, ages 12 and 16. She has vaccinated both, and reports they only experienced a sore arm. She said studies show those age 12 and older respond similarly to the same dose of vaccine as those 16 and older.
There is not an increased risk of side effects for vaccinating the younger group. What is a concern, she said, is the potential for a lasting impact on children who contract the virus.
“Even some children who have had milder cases of COVID, they have gone on to have longer term impacts from that, so in my mind that really is the bigger risk is the longer term impacts from the COVID infection,” she said.
She said at the end of the day she wants to protect her children and others. With the success of clinical trials in teens, she hopes it is just as effective for those under 12.
“Teens and children are at risk for COVID, and it’s important for if we have a safe and effective vaccine to protect themselves with, it’s an important tool in our toolbox to be using,” she said.