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Pediatric ICU doctor supports COVID vaccine for children as Pfizer seeks approval

Pfizer will seek FDA approval for kids ages 5 to 11 to get the COVID vaccine. The company said clinical trials show it is safe and effective for that age group.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Pfizer announced its vaccine, with just a third of the adult dose, is safe and effective for children 5 to 11 years old.

The drugmaker plans to apply for emergency use authorization by the end of the month. But there are several more steps required before the FDA and CDC would allow the vaccine into the arms of children across the country.

Doctor Wendy Hasson is the medical director of the pediatric ICU at Randall Children's Hospital, and she is also a parent.

“I personally have a child that isn't of an age to be vaccinated so I'm navigating a lot of these issues myself, and so seeing this information being released is just a huge sigh of relief,” said Hasson.

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Randall Children’s Hospital sees the sickest of the sick. And its staff is treating the effects of the coronavirus.

“I've taken care of quite a few children with COVID, and I have not admitted to my ICU a single vaccinated patient, every single patient that I've admitted on a ventilator or on heart support have been unvaccinated patients.”

Hasson’s assessment is that the relatively mild side effects on the vaccine are far better to have than the worst effects of the virus itself, which are now more often afflicting young patients.

“When kids are infected with COVID they can get pneumonia, lung infections, heart infections and even infections of the brain, and so we are seeing increasing numbers of that.  And we're also seeing this post-COVID inflammatory syndrome that you can get, even if you didn't know you had COVID, several weeks later," she said.

While Dr. Hasson expects the Pfizer vaccine to be approved for use, she is concerned not enough parents will protect their kids with it.

Looking at vaccination rates for already eligible adolescents explains the concern. So far in Oregon, just over 51% of those 12 to 17 years old are fully vaccinated. In Washington state, it’s 46.6%.

“I am concerned, and I worry that number will be even lower in the younger population because I think that in general people are more cautious with smaller children. And so I think the pediatrics community has a long road ahead of them,” said Hasson.

"I have just been living and breathing this because it means everything to me, and I’m a parent. And I will tell you that I’m going to look at this data very closely, but if it shows that it's safe, which I anticipate, I will be the first in line to vaccinate my own child.”

There is more data and information to be released by Pfizer. And if all goes well, the vaccine could be available for kids ages 5-11 by late October.

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