WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — A pediatrician in Palm Beach County said there is “high demand” in his office for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, and he is urging parents to protect their children. get vaccinated.
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is now being administered in doctors’ offices, pharmacies and in local school districts to children ages 5 to 11 after the FDA and CDC both signed the shots.
“It’s an exciting milestone for us here as pediatricians to have something in our toolkit to fight the pandemic,” said Dr. Tommy Schechtman of Pediatric Partners.
Schechtman joined WPTV journalist Stephanie Susskind on Thursday afternoon for a live discussion on the WPTV Facebook page to answer questions about the vaccine for children.
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Pediatrician in South Florida talks about COVID-19 vaccine for children
Schechtman said he sees “quite a bit of excitement” from parents who can now have their children vaccinated against the deadly virus. To meet that demand, Pediatric Partners will host vaccination clinics in two of its offices on November 13 and 14.
“The best chance we have of getting back to normalcy for our children, our grandchildren, is to vaccinate,” Schechtman said. “Our best, best tool is vaccination. That’s how we’re going to overcome this and beat this pandemic.”
Although Schechtman admitted that many parents and caregivers are hesitant to give their child a newer vaccine, he said clinical trials of about 3,000 children, ages 5 to 11, showed no serious or adverse side effects.
“The vaccine is safe. The benefits far outweigh any even theoretical risk to the child,” Schechtman said. “As we do with any vaccine, we want to give every child the best chance of success and avoid vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Schechtman said 1.8 million children aged 5 to 11 across the country have contracted COVID-19, 8,000 have been hospitalized and 94 have died tragically.
While most cases are mild in children, Schechtman said some patients develop long-term effects, including childhood multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), which can affect a child’s heart.
Couple those risks with the mental health burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on children, Schechtman said the vaccine is the best way for children to return to normal in such a volatile, uncertain time.
“This pandemic has had a major impact on children,” Schechtman said. “As a pediatrician, we see a rapid increase in patients presenting to us with mental illness, whether it be anxiety, depression, agitation or insomnia. And we also know it has affected their education.”
When it comes to children under the age of five, Schechtman said clinical trials are currently underway with infants six months and older, and he estimates the vaccine will be available for even younger children by early 2022.
“What we need to do to protect our smaller children, our toddlers, our babies is to make sure everyone around them is vaccinated. That’s the best way to protect them,” Schechtman said. “The future is bright now that we can vaccinate our children.”