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In-Depth: Doctors discuss COVID-19 vaccines for kids

Some parents hesitant to give kids shots
teen vaccines
Posted at 1:04 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 16:04:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Another group of Americans could become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as early as this week: teenagers.

The Pfizer vaccine already has FDA Emergency Use Authorization for people ages 16 and up and could be the first to get approval for kids ages 12-15.

According to a press release from the company, their vaccine showed 100% efficacy against infection among kids in that age range. The teens in the trial also showed higher levels of antibodies than people in the 16-25 age range. Pfizer said side effects were "generally consistent" between the two age groups.

They have asked the FDA to expand their EUA to include all people age 12 and up based on that information.

Meanwhile, Moderna says they started trials on kids of all ages in March, but they haven't submitted any results for approval.

Johnson & Johnson began trials of their vaccine on 16 and 17-year-olds in April. They plan to expand those trials to kids aged 12 and up soon. Like Moderna, they have not submitted any results or requests for approval yet.

"I think this is really good news," says Dr. Christian Ramers from Family Health Centers of San Diego. "What we're seeing from the scientific data is that the vaccine works as well if not even better in this age group."

But not every parent is as excited as Dr. Ramers about the vaccines.

According to a survey by Invisibly, only 26% of parents say they plan to get their child vaccinated "as soon as possible." 41% of parents polled said they'd wait a few months. 33% say they don't plan to give their children the COVID-19 vaccine at all.

"It's a little concerning," Dr. Ramers says of those numbers while adding that he understands why. "Vaccine hesitancy is totally normal. This is a new vaccine. To be honest, I want to see more data. So I think that's normal."

Dr. Ramers says he can think of three main reasons to get kids vaccinated: for their own health and safety, to protect others in the community, and to help kids re-engage with normal social activities.

Other doctors agree."We want our children to be able to experience what we experienced growing up," says Dr. Shira Abeles from UC San Diego Health. "Going to school, playing with their peers, and not causing any of them to get sick or hospitalized."

Scripps Health Pediatrician Dr. Haley Avol says a lot of it will come down to trust in the system and each child's doctor.

"Once the official tests are done, and once the recommendations are out, then we can be comfortable knowing that there's real science and there's real data to support the safety of these vaccines," she says.

Dr. Ramers adds that parents who still have questions can do their own research. The FDA posts all of the studies and data after a vaccine is given any level of approval. And the CDC keeps a complete database of reported side effects.

"People like me, we have our eyes wide open for anything that's dangerous," Dr. Ramers says. "As of now, the vaccines, they're incredibly safe."