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Listen in: Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children's medical director says newly approved Pfizer vaccine for youngest kids is safe, effective

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in 5- to 11-year-olds, which means some 28 million kids across the US will now qualify to get the two-dose shot. 

WMFE talked with Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children's Medical Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Dr. Federico Laham about the vaccine. He says the Pfizer shot is  safe and effective for children aged five and up.

Read the full interview below or listen to it by clicking on the link at the top of the page.

Dr. Laham: This was very long awaited news and we received it with like open arms and I'm very happy because this is big segment of the population that we so far we're lacking in terms of really good preventative strategies. And we've been able to vaccinate people at higher risk for complications for COVID. But we know that children this age could still account for about 10% of recent new infections and recent cases. So it's something that we had to really take care of.

Danielle: Yeah, it is, like I know, some parents are still concerned about side effects, if they're safe for this group. What would you tell those parents who are on the fence not sure if they want their child to get the shot when it does become available in this area?

Dr. Laham: Well, this vaccine that was just approved is the Pfizer vaccine, which has the mRNA component. These hundreds of millions of doses have been given of this vaccine worldwide, in older people and with an incredible, favorable safety profile. This, there was a really large study that was put in place for this vaccine, about 5,000 children in this age group. And the side effects have been for the most part like local, most commonly some redness and swelling, pain has been reported by folks both receiving the vaccine and by placebo recipients. One thing that to note is that for those who may not be aware, is that the dose that has been chosen for this age group is about a third of the dose that is being given in adults. And even though the dose is smaller, the dose achieved the same type of immune response that is necessary to confer protection against the against infection and its complications.

So you get a bit of the best of the two worlds, you have the really strong immune response, the very limited reaction to the vaccine. And I would probably equal it to kind of the type of reaction that we get with the flu shot.

Danielle: For parents who are ready, you know, they're ready now to get their kids this shot. How will it work? I understand that, you know, they're smaller doses. But will they have to come back for a second dose? How does it all work? Is it similar to how it worked with adults and older kids?

Dr. Laham: Sure, yeah. It's gonna be very similar. The vaccine is approved as part of a two-dose regimen, it's one dose with the second dose three weeks later, and then because it's still approved under these circumstances after receiving the dose, a child might need to wait for 30 minutes. And the idea is that the vaccine is available at pediatricians' offices and maybe vaccination sites. We've seen many of the retail pharmacies having it available too. There might be vaccination sites or hospital systems may also try to help by providing vaccination sites. So it's probably going to be different avenues to get your child vaccinated. As far as I understand vaccine is being shipped this week with the proposed starting of vaccination next week when the logistics and all the you know the different logistics are being carried out at each of these places.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.