OHSU doc: Families have mixed feelings on vaccines for kids

Coronavirus

Vaccine for younger kids may soon get approval

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When kids weren’t in school last year because of the pandemic, all respiratory illnesses dropped off dramatically. Health officials said they didn’t see the coughs, the colds, the ear infections we normally see.

But they came roaring back this summer, said Dr. Eliza Bakken, a professor of pediatrics at OHSU.

Many OHSU doctors have been involved at the state level in helping to decide the best steps for kids going back to in-person school. Even with the delta variant, Bakken said COVID remains at a much lower course in children.

While it’s true kids can get a moderate or severe case of COVID, it’s just not at the same rate as adults.

Of the 640,000 deaths from COVID, only about 500 are from children under the age of 18.

Bakken said it’s hard to determine if the kids who got the delta strain are “sicker than the previous strain or is it just higher kind of burden of illness in our community? And studies have been really kind of mixed on that.”

The best thing to do to protect our kids, she said, is to get vaccinated yourself.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found more than 50% of parents with children 17-and-under said they won’t be vaccinating their kids, or at least will take a wait-and-see approach regarding school requirements.

“We’ve actually had a lot of families ask us if we’d be willing to give the vaccine early to children before the Emergency Use Authorization so-called off-label use of a medication. And the federal government, the American Academy of Pediatrics have really come out encouraging us to not do that and wait for the data,” she told KOIN 6 News. “And just like we see in adults I think there will definitely be some parents that don’t feel like that will be the right choice for them.”

Pfizer officials said it’s possible their vaccine will be FDA-approved for kids 5-11 by Halloween. Data for children between 2-5 will start soon after.

Johnson & Johnson said their first Phase 3 study in kids between 12-17 will begin later this fall.

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