Duke pediatrician talks what to think about when considering vaccinating child

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Duke pediatrician: Pfizer vaccine is safe, but risk is not 'zero'
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Duke Health, UNC Health and WakeMed all plan to begin administering the Pfizer vaccine to those ages 12 to 15 as soon as Thursday.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- In an expected move Monday, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between ages 12-15.

The long-awaited and highly-anticipated decision comes at a time when North Carolina recently requested 40 percent fewer vaccines from the federal government; citing a surplus in supply.

Duke pediatrician, Dr. Michael Smith, held a briefing with members Tuesday morning to discuss Pfizer's EUA.

"My recommendation would be that if you have if you have a child who's 12 or above, go ahead and give them the vaccine because it's going to prevent them from getting the disease," said Dr. Smith. "In the context of a vaccine trial, the most common things that we're seeing, we're not surprising to anybody. It hurts. It can be a little bit red at your injection site. And can be a little bit swollen. And they reported that the rates of all those adverse events were not different in the 12 to 15 year old group, as compared to the 16 to 25 year old group."

Smith's comments come as many parents are weighing whether or not to get their children vaccinated.

"I've already started calling my daughter's doctor's office and tried to call some pharmacy as well, and trying to see how, what's the earliest possible window when I can get her vaccinated," said Wake County parent Geetika Jain. Jain plans to get her 14-year-old daughter vaccinated.

"I think she feels confident," said Jain. "I don't think she had any sort of unsafe hesitance of not getting vaccinated."


Duke Health, UNC Health and WakeMed all plan to begin administering the vaccine to 12-15-year-olds as soon as Thursday.

Wednesday, the CDC's Vaccine Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to discuss how best to administer the shot and offer recommended dosage guidance.

However, Cape Fear Valley Health already began giving vaccines to the children of its employees. An official with the health system described it as a "pilot program."

In a statement, Chris Tart, who serves Cape Fear Valley Health's vice president of professional services, wrote: "Since the state and the nation had already opened to the "everyone" group, the FDA just effectively expanded that group to include 12 to 15-year-olds. Combined with the decrease in demand from other age groups, and the indication that the CDC is going to also recommend approval in the near future, this decision made sense for us. While the CDC does provide helpful recommendations on how to further clarify how to use drugs and vaccines for infectious diseases, the FDA is the authority on approval of drugs/vaccines to enter the market. Anatomically, children aged 12 to 15 are not very different from children 16 to 17 or young adults 18 and older. Pfizer was already approved for children 16 to 17 years old and this is an extension down to age 12. The dose, side effects and immune response are very similar for 12 to 15-year-olds as 16 and older. We anticipate very little clarification from the CDC than what the FDA has already advised providers for what to expect vaccinating this age group."