Vaccine Central

Parents consider COVID shots for ages 5-11 as vaccine gets reviews

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Some of the nation’s top health advisors met Tuesday to endorse kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

That means the United States is one step closer to approving vaccinating children between the ages of 5-11. Next, the FDA is expected to make its own decision on the shots within the next few days.

Regardless of whether a parent themselves was vaccinated against COVID, one thing they told News 8 on Tuesday is that they are putting more thought into the decision for their children. Parents add there are different things to consider when it comes to making the decision to vaccinate or not for their children.

Local health experts say there are a specific group of parents who have been waiting for the day one of the vaccines would become available for their kids.

If approved, the kids’ dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which is one-third of that given to teens and adults, could be available as early as November. The Pfizer vaccine is nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection.

Many parents still haven’t made up their mind when it comes to vaccinating their younger children. Meredith Nisley has two children that fall into the 5-11 age range.

“I haven’t really decided yet. My thought is to speak to their pediatrician about what she thinks. I got myself vaccinated but with my kids I want to speak to their doctor first,” Nisley said.

Malcom Cannon has one child who would be eligible. He and his wife chose not get the vaccine and he says they would do the same for their child but says things might change if their school mandates it.

“I don’t think the vaccine, some people are scared of what it could do, I am necessarily cared that it would effect my children in a negative way. So I would be moving toward the side of doing it because it is not worth losing their education over it because we pay for a private school,” Cannon said.

Both Cannon and Nisley say it is different making that choice for their children than it was for themselves.

“If something were to go wrong or their were side effects, I would feel stronger about it if it was in them than in myself as a parent,” Nisley said.

Cannon said, “When I think of myself there may be your own personal reasons why you don’t want to. But as a parent, sometimes you don’t want to invoke what you feel or how you believe about something onto your children. But, the very same time you are trying to balance that between protecting them and being safe.”

Dr. John Christenson, medical director of infection and prevention with Riley Hospital for Children, says that parents who have children with comorbidities have been waiting on the day they can protect their children against COVID with a vaccine. “Obesity, children with chronic lung disease, especially asthma might be at an increased risk, and you are going to have children that may have compromised immune systems or have heart disease,” Christenson said.

Christenson says that when it comes to risks the FDA panel is discussing myocarditis or inflammation of the heart muscle which has been a reported side effect of the vaccine. Current data shows that the risk for that condition in kids is 50 cases out of 1 million doses of vaccine, which the Riley doctor says is is lower than the risk of contracting myocarditis when getting infected with the virus itself.

“A lot of the discussion today surrounding the risk of myocarditis. The good thing is that when you look at the risk of myocarditis it appears to be lower in this group of 5-11 years of age,” Christenson said.

The doctor recommends parents discuss the vaccination with their child’s primary care provider before making any decisions, especially if the parents have questions about safety or efficacy of the vaccinations.