Midstate doctors optimistic about children ages 5-11 having access to COVID vaccine

Vaccinate PA

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Kids ages five to 11 are one step closer to being eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer applied for emergency use authorization Thursday, Oct. 7.

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Federal regulators are set to meet at the end of the month. 28 million children are eligible and many parents are anxious to get their kids vaccinated.

Pfizer says its data shows that a third of the adult dose gave kids the same level of antibodies as adults.

“I think this is another step forward and I think it’s a step that a lot of us in the pediatric community and the pediatric infectious disease community has been waiting for,” Dr. Patrick Gavigan, pediatric infectious disease physician at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, said.

Gavigan is optimistic Pfizer will get approval for its vaccine to be used for kids.

“Vaccination is really our only kind of path forward to getting rid of the masks and all the social distancing, virtual learning,” Gavigan said.

It’s true that most kids who get COVID-19 don’t get as sick, but it’s not an age group that should be ignored.

“We’re seeing kids in the hospital with COVID now almost routinely, with symptomatic COVID, some with the multi-system inflammatory syndrome that can happen after COVID,” Gavigan said.

Higher community spread endangers those with underlying conditions and the elderly.

“When you look at pandemics, when you look at flu outbreaks, one of the frequent drivers for flu outbreaks is young children,” Dr. John Goldman, infectious disease specialist with UPMC, said.

Goldman says even for those who had COVID, it’s no substitute for the vaccine.

“Studies at UPMC have indicated that getting natural infection is the equivalent of getting one of the two doses of the vaccine series, that it actually produces lower levels of antibodies,” Goldman said.

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