PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. is poised to approve the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for people as young as 12 but the decision to vaccinate a child isn’t an easy one for many parents.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children currently account for 22% of all new coronavirus cases in the United States — up from 3% a year ago. In many of the cases reported in recent weeks, doctors point to variant strains of COVID that are more contagious as school activities resume and kids spend more time interacting with others.
At least 300 kids in Oregon age 19 and under have been hospitalized with COVID and hundreds of deaths have been reported nationwide. Dr. Dawn Nolt, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, said her 13-year-old will definitely be getting the vaccine when it becomes available.
“They can get very sick and they can transmit to people around them, including their classmates and their teachers so it is important for people to get vaccinated,” said Nolt.
More than 2,000 children between 12 and 15 participated in the clinical trials of the Pfizer vaccine. Studies suggest it was 100% effective in protecting kids compared to the 90%-plus efficacy in adults and there were no serious side effects.
But many parents are hesitant about a vaccine that is so new. Parents and legal guardians should talk with their pediatricians to help make a decision.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15 by next week, setting up shots for many before the beginning of the next school year. Currently, those 16 and older are approved for the shot.