Child COVID vaccine nears approval; doctor encourages parents to talk to their kids

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As COVID-19 cases across the country continue to fall, health leaders are awaiting another major breakthrough against the virus.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11, and the organization’s independent vaccine advisory board will meet Tuesday to discuss whether Pfizer’s vaccine should be authorized for younger kids.

As the country waits, doctors in Louisville are encouraging parents to begin the vaccine conversation with their children, if they’ve not done so already.

“I think for the kids who are capable of understanding, the way to frame this is, ‘listen guys, you know what it’s been like for the last year and a half — all the quarantining, and all of the isolation, and all of the masking and soccer games that were canceled, this is the way we get out of that,’” Norton Children’s Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Dr. Gary Marshall said.

Marshall told WAVE 3 News he’s been a leader in Norton’s Pfizer vaccine trials and said 1,400 families signed their children up to participate. He said that number shows thousands of people are already willing to vaccinate their children.

Marshall also said in his experience with the trials, the data has proven positive results.

“The immune response to the vaccine is the same as it is in the adults who have gotten it,” Marshall said. And the protection rate appears to be very high, probably over 90 percent. It’s one of the best vaccines we have.”

Some parents, like Tarah Decker, are patiently waiting for their children to be eligible for the vaccine.

“For us, it’s very exciting that he will be able to be protected,” Decker said.

In 2019, Decker was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a survivor two years later, but her immune system is compromised, putting her in the high-risk category for COVID-19. As a result, she told WAVE 3 News that she and her husband have already discussed the vaccine with their 5-year-old son Lou.

”I’ve explained to him, you know, it’s just like any other shot,” Decker said. “It hurts just for a second, but it will protect you and it’ll keep you safe, and so, I think he’s looking forward to that. Now again, he’s five. He doesn’t want to go get a shot, but I think to have the options and the availability to go do other things that he couldn’t do before is exciting.”

Once the FDA grants authorization, the issue moves to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccine advisory group, which is set to meet on Nov. 2 and 3. From there, the CDC director will sign off on the recommendation.

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