Nemours pediatricians urge parents to consider COVID-19 vaccine for children

Pfizer recently announced vaccines safe, effective for children ages 5 to 11

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) (Damian Dovarganes, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Nemours Children’s Health System officials stressed the importance of administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children when available during a press conference Thursday hosted by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

On Sept. 20, Pfizer-BioNTech said trial data shows a lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine was safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. The company is currently awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration after submitting their data to them.

Dr. Kenneth Alexander, who specializes in infectious diseases and pediatrics at Nemours Children’s Health Systems and also served as a consultant for the Moderna vaccine, started by saying “we all want the same thing.”

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“I really want with a plea for some compassion around the vaccination topic,” Alexander said. “Compassion for people that have COVID, compassion for people that have lost family members or friends, and especially, compassion for people who are trying to do the right thing and yet still aren’t absolutely sure what to do. Because we all want the same thing. We all want this pandemic over.”

Alexander said getting back to normal requires relying on the same tools that we have implemented throughout the pandemic, including social distancing, wearing a mask, washing our hands, and most importantly, vaccination.

“One of the things we now deal with parents, is that when they don’t fear the disease, they fear the vaccine,” Alexander said. “We know that the ravages of all these diseases far exceeded any risk of vaccination.”

For parents, the same questions typically arise when considering any vaccine for their child, according to Alexander.

“Is it safe? So far, in other age groups, absolutely, and we anticipate the same in younger children. Does it work? Absolutely. Does it work every time? No, but almost every time. And finally, what’s our recommendation? Across the medical and public health community, the recommendation is to vaccinate.”

Dr. Adriana Cadilla, another doctor specializing in infectious diseases and pediatrics at Nemours Children’s Health Systems. agreed that these questions are key.

“It’s important, as parents, if you have questions, talk to your pediatrician, talk to your health care provider... We’re here to help,” Cadilla said.

She also said to start preparing children to get the vaccine at locations other than their pediatrician’s office.

“We need to start letting them know it might occur at a pharmacy, at a drug store, some place they’re not used to going,” Cadilla continued.

While the number of COVID-19 cases found in school-age children is decreasing, they still continue to account for 19-20% of all cases, according to Dr. Raul Pino with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

Pino also announced that the county’s positivity rate is 8.3%, marking the second consecutive day below 10%. The county also had less than 500 cases a day for the 11th consecutive day.

Pino noted that decreasing cases could be due to a correlation between the times we go indoors, which in the southern part of the U.S. is the summer. He said monitoring what happens this winter in the north will be crucial to understanding if the weather will play any role in decreasing cases up north.

About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.