MIAMI – On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15, a move experts believe is a crucial step in the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.
“Children have been affected by this pandemic more than we could have ever imagined, so this is the next step toward getting kids back to some normalcy,” said Dr. Lisa A. Gwynn, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami.
The authorization removes an obstacle to school reopenings by reducing the threat of transmission.
It also could more safely allow kids the chance to attend summer camps, sleepovers and get-togethers with friends.
Parents in South Florida now have to decide whether to give the vaccine to their kids. Health experts are encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated.
Many are excited about the opportunity, while others say they will await more information before proceeding.
“I’m just counting down the days. It’s going to feel like Christmas, the day that it can come,” said Lindsay Poveromo-Joly, a mother of two. ”I cannot wait to get both my kids vaccinated.”
Natalie Borghini, a mother of three, said: “I just want to wait and see how the kids react to it, so a little bit more trials before deciding whether or not to vaccinate the children at this point.”
In a clinical trial, about 2,200 children between ages 12 and 15 took either the vaccine or a placebo. Eighteen of those who took the placebo got coronavirus, but none of the children who got the vaccine did.
Dr. Marcos Mestre, chief medical officer at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, said vaccinating children against COVID-19 is important.
“Across the United States, there’s a greater proportion of children being infected compared to adults,” he said.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC also said, “I encourage all parents to get their kids vaccinated. I know many parents are enthusiastic.”
Dr. Ronald Ford, chief medical officer at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, said parents want to be assured they’re making the right decision.
“Parents of the kids we take care of at Joe DiMaggio have already expressed a lot of interest in getting the vaccine,” he said. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls and queries about when the vaccine is going to be available to that age group ... as well as where they can go to get vaccinated.”
Ford calls vaccination necessary, even though most kids who get COVID-19 don’t get very sick or experience serious symptoms.
“They are effective carriers and they can effectively transmit the virus to people who can get very sick,” Ford said.
An independent CDC panel plans to meet Wednesday to review the latest data on the Pfizer vaccine. If the committee decides to approve, which is expected, then it could become available to the younger age groups immediately.
Pfizer is currently the only vaccine in the United States authorized for ages 16 and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently approved for ages 18+.