Orlando doctor hopeful children under 12 can get COVID-19 vaccine by end of 2021

Dr. Fatma Levent said studies are ongoing

ORLANDO, Fla. – As thousands of children 12 and older across the state get their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, a Central Florida doctor is already fielding questions about when younger children can get the shot.

Dr. Fatma Levent is the medical director for pediatric infectious diseases at AdventHealth. She said children will play a key role in bringing an end to the pandemic.

“We have a good population, good young population, and it’s going to play a role to get to the herd immunity in our community,” Levent said.

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Pfizer received FDA emergency use authorization last week to start vaccinating kids as young as 12. According to the state’s latest vaccine report, almost 51,000 12 to 14-year-olds already got their first dose.

“I’m actually seeing a very good number of kids being vaccinated because we have talked to our friends and families,” Levent said.

Levent said she is now hearing from parents of younger children wanting to know when their kids can get the vaccine. She said studies with children under 12 are ongoing.

She adds she’s hopeful they can get the shot by the end of the ear, which will protect them when they go back to school.

“I’m very hopeful that it is going to be within the next school year. I’m not sure if it’s going to be in the beginning. We’re hoping so, but I think it might be within that first semester,” she said.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, provided a better idea of a possible timeline earlier this week.

“It is likely and almost certain that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year and first quarter of 2022 that we will have enough information regarding safety and immunogenicity to be able to vaccinate children of any age,” Fauci said.

Levent said even though children aren’t as likely to suffer severe COVID-19 symptoms, she is still seeing some hospitalized. She is encouraging families to vaccinate their kids when they’re eligible.

“I feel having the kids vaccinated is going to help quite a bit in this pandemic,” Levent said.

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