Pediatricians prepare for FDA approval of Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – On Wednesday, Canada’s national health department approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15.

Health care officials in the U.S. are hoping the Food and Drug Administration follows suit soon.

“I’m talking to them about the risks and benefits and talking to them about why it’s an important thing, not only for their child but for their classmates and for their family,” said Dr. Donald Beno, a pediatrician with Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

It’s a conversation Dr. Beno said seems timely as the FDA is expected to expand its Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-10 vaccine to include kids ages 12 to 15 soon. It’s an important next step as data shows an increase in positive cases in adolescents.

“It’s actually one of the fastest-growing numbers of cases in the country are in that adolescent population. It’s very concerning. I think a lot of people have the perception that COVID’s very mild in children. And it is. The death rates are significantly lower. I was reading the infectious disease physician that represents the American Academy of Pediatrics noted something that was kind of shocking. Despite COVID not being as serious in kids, this year it’s still one of the top 10 reasons for cause of death in children. Although maybe not as much death as we see in adults, it still can be significantly bad for children. It not only can cause death, but some of the long-term effects, we don’t want our children to have,” said Dr. Ashok Rai, President and CEO of Prevea Health.

“In my own practice I’ve had a very young child who will probably likely need a heart transplant at some point, due to this illness,” said Dr. Beno.

For those reasons, both Dr. Beno and Dr. Rai believe children ages 12-15 should get the shot when it’s available because the data continues to show it’s safe and effective. In the third phase of the trial of more than 2,200 participants, 18 got COVID-19. All those documented positive cases were in participants who got the placebo, meaning they didn’t get the vaccine.

“So all of the cases of the actual illness that occurred during their studies happened in the people that did not receive vaccines,” said Dr. Beno. “So, that is even better than the 95 to 97% that it showed benefits for the adult.”

Plus, it helps with the goal of herd immunity as Wisconsin has about 300,000 kids between the ages of  12-15.

“It really needs to be 80% of people in all areas and then all ages,” said Dr. Beno.

If you have questions about the vaccine, source your information from experts.

“We’ve all got to remember that when we research things online, anyone can post anything on the internet. We always want to go to the experts,” said Dr. Beno.

Dr. Beno said the experts are happy to talk about the vaccine, especially correcting misinformation.

“I had a lot of questions about future fertility. I don’t know why those questions have become more and more prevalent, but there is no effect on fertility or in future fertility, it doesn’t change our DNA ,” said Dr. Beno.

The state said it is prepared to vaccinate kids ages 12-15 when approved, but there is one thing to keep in mind.

“I’ll be frank when it comes to kids, you might have to drive a little farther to get a vaccine because some may not be able to handle the intricacies of the Pfizer vaccine but we will do what we can to help them,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS Deputy Secretary. “I suspect we will never have them in 100 of locations, but our system will accommodate expanding to further locations.”

If you would like to find a location near you that carries the Pfizer vaccine, head to vaccinefinder.org.

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