Parents, health officials weigh in on vaccines for younger kids

NOW: Parents, health officials weigh in on vaccines for younger kids

SOUTH BEND, Ind --- With the Delta variant and kids back in school contributing to an uptick in cases in younger folks, Pfizer taking a major step forward, asking federal regulators to use its vaccine for kids 5 to 11-years-old.

The move could make nearly 28 million U.S. kids in that age group eligible for the shot, but some parents ABC57 spoke with were split on taking the next step.

“I trust the governments process and I think that if they’re willing to approve it for kids 5-11 I don’t see how it’s any different from any other vaccine,” said a Michiana resident.

While another Michiana parent was much more hesitant, “When COVID has such a high survival rate, especially with that age, it’s just not a risk I’m willing to take,” said Victory Woodall.

Woodall has three kids in Berrien County Public Schools and feels there has not been enough time or research for her to be comfortable with her kids getting vaccinated.

“Parents of younger kids are going to be appropriately cautious about it. There’s not a lot of data. There’s good evidence about how effective it is but there’s just not a long track record evaluating the safety,” said Dr. Mark Fox who's the Deputy Health Officer at the St. Joseph County Health Department.

Dr. Fox said with well under 50% of kids 12 to 15-years-old in St. Joseph County Indiana vaccinated and about 35% of kids ages 12 to 19 in Berrien County, he fears not enough parents will make the move for their even younger kids.

“My concern is since we’ve only seen 25 percent eligible school aged kids get vaccinated to this point, I fear the response will be similarly slow among the younger kids. So, we have this great path forward that I fear too few people will take advantage of,” added Dr. Fox.

But once available if parents do decide to get their young children immunized against COVID-19 health experts on both sides of the state line said they’ll be ready. They said they also believe these vaccines will help drive down cases and keep more kids in the classroom.

“We know that there will be many families that choose vaccinations immediately for their children which will provide them that protection they need against the virus and give an extra layer of safety especially as their back in school in-person,” explained Gillian Conrad, the Communications Manager at Berrien County Health Department.

Pfizer’s research showed although kids ages 5 to11 received a smaller dose of the vaccine it was still proven to be effective. The FDA is set to deliberate on October 26 and if approved it will head to the CDC. After CDC approval shots could start going out as soon as early November.

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