Getting Answers: Vaccines for children

Dr. Tina Stefanski
Posted at 6:50 AM, Oct 26, 2021

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration will meet to discuss the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children.

Officials say this would be a major milestone in fighting the pandemic.

Abby Breidenbach spoke with Dr. Tina Stefanski Region 4 Director for the Louisiana Department of Health about the vaccines.

Dr. Stefanski says that the information presented today will be based on clinical trials that have been ongoing since March.

"The clinical trials occurred a couple months ago and the FDA is requiring a longer period of time for monitoring kids. These clinical trials wrapped up a few months ago," she says. "We have a few months of data following these children's vaccinations and its a few thousand children that were involved in these clinical trials."

Stefanski explains that people under 18 are representing the bulk of new COVID cases as the Delta variant continues to spread.

"Its an unvaccinated population. Kids are mobile. They're in contact with each other and it's a very contagious variant," she says. "So by the law of averages, more kids in that age group are becoming infected with the Delta variant. So right now, about 25 percent of cases with the new variant are in kids less than 18."

Adolescents age 12 to 18 are eligible to get vaccinated for COVID 19, and Dr. Stefanski says doing this can and will help reduce COVID numbers.

"The more people we have in our community vaccinated the less virus we're going to have circulating and so we'll have more protection and there will be less of a need for things like widespread mask wearing," she says. "But unfortunately we're just not there yet."

For parents that are wary about vaccinating their children, Dr. Stefanski says to talk to their pediatrician and ask questions about the virus and how the vaccine can help.

The potential approval for children by the FDA, doctors say, is coming at a great time of year.

Not only is it the start of flu season, bu the start of the holiday season.

Dr. Stefanski says that if you or your family is not yet vaccinated, think about who you want to see and hug this holiday season. The opportunity to take the vaccine could keep you from infecting them with covid.

"The best way you can avoid these super spreader events at your holiday gatherings is to make sure everyone that can be vaccinated is vaccinated," she says. "Thankfully we have booster doses so those older people should be getting those booster doses to increase their level of protection but still an added level of protection for thsoe individuals is to make sure they're around people who are vaccinated."

Stefanski says that in order to be vaccinated in time for Thanksgiving, patients would need to have their first vaccine dose administered this week.

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