BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The nation is getting closer to approval of vaccinating more children and it could happen as early as Tuesday.
The CDC advisory committee is expected to give final approval of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.
“It may be for some families, though, that this could make all the difference — suddenly they can go to the zoo and enjoy themselves and be a little bit more relaxed,” remarked Dr. Rachel Kaufman, pediatrician & partner, Buffalo Pediatric Associates.
The CDC says there are 28-million children in that age group across the U.S.
Vaccines could begin as early as next week.
Dr. Kaufman says it is “incredibly exciting” that by next week she could be vaccinating the younger school age children, 5-to-11 years old.
“What will it mean once that 5 to 11 year is vaccinated?" Buckley questioned.
“My expectation is that it's going to be an important step in the right direction — the more children who get vaccinated in this age group — the better,” Dr. Kaufman replied.
But Dr. Kaufman says she's getting a mix of “excitement” and vaccine “hesitancy” from parents.
“Can you say what their top fears are?" Buckley asked.
“What if this harms my kid? What if there's something we don't know and that's really difficult because you can prove a negative, right?" Responded Dr. Kaufman. “You need to stack the deck in your favor — even if it doesn't come with a 100 percent guarantee."
“Is there anyone myth-buster thing that you could provide?” Buckley asked.
“People keep raising concerns about fertility. There's nothing except fear and repetition of misinformation driving that — that isn't substantiated — that isn't the concern,” answered Dr. Kaufman.
“There's going to be some kids who get vaccinated. There are going to be some families who want to wait and see and there are going to be some families who might not chose to do it,” remarked Tarja Parssinen, parent, WNY Education Alliance.
Parssinen says as a parent, it's exciting news that more children can be vaccinated.
For parents who have been upset about the tough ten-day quarantine rule for children at schools who are not sick and only exposed to COVID cases, the vaccine could be a game-changer.
The Erie County Health Department issued a statement saying “children between the ages of 5-to-11 who are full vaccinated, would not be subject to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, as long as they remain without symptoms.”
But Parssinen says "test to stay" is the best option for school kids.
“We really think that Erie County shouldn't use it's quarantine powers to keep healthy kids home from school just because they are not vaccinated, as well all know with the roll out of the vaccine — it's not going to be 100-percent of kids ages 5-11 are going to be vaccinated immediately,” Parssinen explained.
Parssinen says there is concern the vaccine would be used as a reason to prevent quarantine for students.
The New York State Department of Health is now allowing counties to decide on “test to stay”, but Erie County has not made a decision.
Last week, at a COVID briefing, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said the county was looking into it, but urged parents to get their children vaccinated.
“Right now, today, the most effective way to keep kids, who have been exposed in school, is to vaccinate them if they are 12 and up — kids who are 12 and up, who are fully vaccinated to not need to quarantine at home,” remarked Burstein. “That is the ticket — is to get kids vaccinated.”
Parssinen is hoping the county opts for “test to stay”.
“It’s an easy solution to get kids in school so that they can get the education the need,” Parssinen said.
Meanwhile, the CDC says the trials for children 5 to 11 found efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine at about 91-percent.
Dr. Kaufman is highly recommending 5 to 11 year olds as well as children 12 plus get vaccinated.
“The risk of not being vaccinated far and away exceeds any of the those other concerns,” stated Kaufman. “I’m afraid that neither I or any other doctor can promise you a perfectly perfect 100-percent guarantee — no risk — no problem intervention. But there's risks with Tylenol, there's risks with Motrin — risks with all kinds of standard medical treatments.”