ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando pediatrician is encouraging parents to get their young children vaccinated against COVID-19 after the U.S. opened the shots to young children on Saturday.
Dr. Salma Elfaki said this moment is long in the making.
“We’ve been waiting for this for two and a half years,” she said.
On Saturday, the CDC approved Pfizer’s and Moderna’s lower-dose COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. This move expands the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 6 months.
Dr. Elfaki said vaccinating this age group will help us reach herd immunity.
“When we’re discussing herd immunity, we’re talking about 80-90% of the population. Children, especially babies and toddlers, make up a significant portion of the population,” Dr. Elfaki said.
She said parents are asking her if their youngest children need the vaccine because they’ve gone this long without it or if they’ve already had COVID.
Do they need the shot? Dr. Elfaki said yes.
“It decreases their risk of catching the illness, it decreases the risk of getting hospitalized or developing long term side effects, AKA long haul COVID,” she said.
This comes as Florida is the only state that did not pre-order COVID vaccines for this age group. Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s against the shot for young kids, adding that just because the state didn’t order the vaccine doesn’t mean it’s not available.
“Doctors can get it, hospitals can get it, but there’s’ not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” DeSantis said.
Dr. Elfaki said she has already ordered 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine for this new age group. She’s hoping the shipment will arrive at her practice, Nona Pediatrics Center, later this week.
She’s encouraging parents with questions or concerns to talk to their child’s doctor.
Dr. Elfaki adds this is our best shot at bringing an end to the pandemic.
“This is definitely the best tool that we have to prevent these issues and try to get out of this pandemic once and for all,” she said.