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Pfizer, doctors push for children to get COVID shot

Some doctors say vaccinating children against coronavirus is the next step toward herd immunity in the United States.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — As Pfizer awaits FDA approval to give children ages 12-15 its COVID-19 vaccine, some doctors say vaccinating children against coronavirus is the next step toward herd immunity in the United States.

Alejandra and Marisol Gerardo are 9-year-old twins who participated in Pfizer's U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial for kids under 12. They were featured in an NBC News report alongside their parents, who are both doctors.

The family discussed the issue together, and the kids were on board with trying the vaccine.

"They're feeling wonderful, they've not changed their activities at all," said their mother, Dr. Susanna Naggie, after their first dose.

Pfizer is testing its vaccine with children ranging in age from as young as six months to teenagers under 16. It said early results so far indicate its vaccine is 100% effective for kids 12-15.

"These results haven't been peer reviewed yet, but if they stand, that's good news in the fight against this virus," said NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres.

RELATED: Pfizer asks FDA to allow its COVID-19 vaccine for younger teens

Dr. Daniel Summers is a pediatrician with a private practice north of Boston. His Twitter account reaches tens of thousands of people, discussing issues of health. He spoke with KGW over Zoom Saturday, excited about Pfizer's request to the FDA.

"If I have the opportunity to begin vaccinating patients of my own within that [age] range, I will start it just as soon as they get a vaccine into my hands," Summers said.

Summers, like many doctors, is taking questions from concerned parents and people who are vaccine hesitant. He said the most common concerns are about side effects and the speed of COVID-19 vaccine development.

"I address them by trying to look a little more at the history of the vaccines," Summers said. "The COVID vaccine was built upon years of research."

COVID vaccines use new mRNA technology, which has been under development and review for years. The pandemic boosted resources in the field to get COVID-19 vaccines completed.

"Turns out when every scientist in the world is working on a problem, they're pretty good at solving it," Summers said.

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Children make up about a quarter of the U.S. population. To reach herd immunity and prevent COVID from continuing its spread, many doctors say both adults and children need to be vaccinated.

Pfizer said if it received FDA approval, vaccine rollout for children could be ready by the start of the school year.

Moderna is also testing its vaccine on children. Johnson & Johnson plans to do the same.

"It's protection for [children] and one step closer to everybody being able to return to the life we want to be living," Summers said.

Meanwhile, kids like Alejandra and Marisol Gerardo are helping prove the Pfizer vaccine is safe for people their age.

"I hope this empowers them to understand that you as an individual can make a difference, beyond yourself and your family," their mother said.

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