Royal Oak Tribune

COVID-19 vaccine not available for kids yet

- By Paula Pasche ppasche@medianewsg­ @paulapasch­e on Twitter

The rollout of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine this week, and the Moderna vaccine next week, does not include children under age 16.

Vaccines for children are on the horizon.

“The reason children were not considered initially a priority is because while people less than 21 years of age make up 26 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 0.08 percent of deaths,’’ said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA advisory board on vaccines. “They were not a first priority, but should be and I think eventually will be.’’

Offit said children need to be immunized because as many have died from COVID-19 this year as died of the flu.

As of Dec. 9, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 92 children ages 14 and below had died from COVID-19.

“Also the (virus) can cause this multi-system inflammato­ry disease in children and even inflammati­on of the blood vessels, aside from this multi-system inflammato­ry disease,’’ Offit added.

Pfizer has gone down to 16 years of age and Offit said there’s an interest in going down to 12 years of age.

Astra-Seneca is considerin­g going down to 4-5 years of age. Offit said he expects those studies to roll out early next year.

“Anything that causes children to suffer, be hospitaliz­ed or die that can be prevented safely and effectivel­y needs to be prevented. I think we will do that but not without data first, so we need to study children first,’’ Offit said.

Once a vaccine that is safe for children becomes available, parents will make decisions about whether they want their children to receive it.

“There’s a lot of conversati­on about vaccine hesitancy. We are concerned about that, that is a legitimate concern,’’ said Patsy Stinchfiel­d, president- elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “But the context is 90 percent of parents vaccinate their children on schedule by the time they enter kindergart­en. That is the silent majority. Then there’s that 1-2 percent that are the very loud anti-vaccine group. The remainder is in the middle, they’re the hesitant (ones). They’re the ones who need more informatio­n, they have fears.

“A lot of the parents I talk to that are hesitant are just stuck. They’ve heard from this side you should vaccinate, that side that you shouldn’t vaccinate. Now They’re just scared, they don’t know what to do,’’ Stinchfiel­d said.

She said she tells families that vaccine safety monitoring never ends.

“So we don’t just roll out the vaccine and go on to the next one. We’re constantly monitoring vaccines and that should give people comfort,’’ Stinchfiel­d said.

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