Should parents allow their children to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As the FDA approves the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children ages 12 to 15, parents are faced with a new question — should they allow their children to get the shot?

Dr. Jeff Harp from Highland Family Medicine addressed that question for parents and what the new approval could mean for herd immunity Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“Currently 44% of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine,” Dr. Harp said. “We will start seeing significant slowing at 50-60%. Experts currently estimate that for true herd immunity 70 to 85 percent of the population must be immune through full vaccination or having the illness.”

What are the companies doing to make sure the vaccine is safe and effective for kids 12 & up?

Moderna announced last Thursday that the initial analysis of a study in patients age 12 to 17 showed a 96% efficacy rate. Moderna said the vaccine was also “generally well tolerated” and that no serious safety concerns have been identified so far.

Similarly, in a study published in late March, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated 100% efficacy in adolescents. Administration was well tolerated, with side effects generally consistent with those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age.

Some parents may be hesitant to allow their children to be vaccinated. What is the message for parents?

Covid is becoming more of a pediatric disease. Last Monday, the AAP reported that children represented 22.4% of new cases reported in the previous week. Experts link the trend to several factors – particularly fewer infections in older Americans due to high vaccination. Other possible factors include new COVID-19 variants and the loosening of restrictions on school activities. The RNA virus vaccines are safe and effective for children. Allow your children to be immunized.

What about variants?

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are showing efficacy against most if not all variants. In a study published last week, people in Qatar who received two doses of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine were 75% less likely to develop a case of COVID-19 caused by B.1.351 (the most worrisome variant thus far) than were unvaccinated people and had near-total protection from severe disease caused by that strain.

What about younger children?

Pfizer is conducting pediatric studies to determine the safety and benefits of administering its vaccine to young children. The company plans to submit two new emergency use authorization requests in September, with one request covering children from 2 to 5 years old and a second applying to ages 5 to 11. A separate batch of results and a possible request for children who are ages 6 months to 2 years old are expected later in 2021.

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