Orange County health leaders react to Pfizer vaccine approval for children 12 and up

Vaccines could be administered as early as Thursday

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Federal health officials have opened eligibility for Pfizer’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine to include kids between the ages of 12 and 15. The emergency use authorization was approved on Monday by the Food and Drug Administration.

Health leaders in Orange County called it the right move in the county’s effort to return to normalcy.

“I know there is a perception that young people don’t get [COVID-19] or that they might not get it as bad and that may be true on the whole, but there are some young people that can get severe complications,” epidemiologist Alvina Chu said.

[RELATED: Pfizer COVID-19 shot expanded to US children as young as 12]

The CDC is expected to meet to discuss the use of the coronavirus vaccine in kids ages 12 to 15.

Chu said the county has already been vaccinating teens 16 and older and said lowering the age limit should be available to the younger generation.

“[It] will help us to get a handle on this pandemic and will increase the immunity within our community,” Chu said.

One pediatrician News 6 talked to said it is time to vaccinate adolescents if we want to drive down infection in school-aged children. Dr. Thresia Gambon with the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics said she has been anticipating the approval.

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“Pediatricians have been gearing up for this as we know pediatricians are doctors who do vaccines all the time,” Dr. Gambon said.

During Orange County’s COVID-19 news conference, Orange County Public Schools spokesperson Scott Howat expressed the district is ready to cooperate as Pfizer lowers the age limit ahead of a return to school in the fall.

“We’re also poised and ready to work with the county and FDOH to do vaccination sites in other locations as they move down into the 12 and up range,” Howat said.

While the vaccine is on an emergency use basis, Dr. Gambon said she trusts the science.

“As the vaccine expands, I’ve told that parents that they should get it. It’s available and safe and if the EUA goes through I feel safe recommending it to them,” Dr. Gambon said.

Vaccines could be administered as early as Thursday after a federal vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations. An announcement could be made by Wednesday.