MILWAUKEE - The FDA is expected to authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids 12 and older by next week meaning getting vaccinated before summer could be the reality for young teens.
This anticipated FDA authorization comes at a critical time, when children make up more than 20% of new cases of the coronavirus. Many of them are now back in the classroom, but in order to keep schools open this fall, doctors say they should get vaccinated.
Pediatricians are urging parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as they’re eligible.
"We highly recommend it," said Dr. Markeita Moore. "It’s understandable that they’re hesitant because of the mistrust, but it’s my job to instill trust."
(Photo by Vincenzo Izzo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
During a virtual town hall with Advocate Aurora Health, Dr. Moore and Dr. Frank Belmonte addressed families’ concerns ahead of the anticipated approval of the Pfizer vaccine for kids 12 to 15 years old. In clinical trials, the shots were shown to be safe and effective.
"There are kids who have chronic medical conditions or who are in active treatment for cancer," said Dr. Belmonte. "They would want to talk to their specialist before they make any appointment or get any vaccine but the great majority just go get."
While young people are far less likely to get seriously sick from COVID-19 compared to older adults, they currently make up the majority of new infections, in part because they aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine.
(Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
"We don’t understand the long-term side effects of the covid virus so protecting yourself is really important," said Belmonte.
Teens are likely to experience similar side effects to the shots as adults, including a day or two of fatigue, headache and a sore arm. On approval, people can make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine at Advocate Aurora Health by downloading the LiveWell app, visiting aah.org/vaccine, or by calling 866-443-2584.
"We’ve kind of reached that stage where the supply outpaces the demand," said Jim Skogsbergh, Aurora president and CEO.
The protection for young people, experts say, will help the entire community reduce transmission of COVID-19.
"We could see a resurgence if we don’t see critical vaccine levels," said Belmonte.
The vaccine is not currently required in K-12 schools, but experts anticipate it could be eventually. As for younger kids, they say Pfizer will likely get approval for ages 2 through 11 sometime this fall.