Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center plans to extend vaccine appointments to younger teenagers once they get approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is safe and effective enough for adolescents.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Cincinnati Children’s officials said they hope to offer the vaccine to children ages 12-15.
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital began vaccination trials with children ages 12-15 in October 2020. More than 1,400 people, including adults, are participating in one of Cincinnati Children’s clinical trials that involve several different vaccines.
Young people between 12 and 15 years of age could qualify for admissions as early as Thursday after a meeting of an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.
According to Patty Manning, MD, chief of staff at Cincinnati Children’s, there are three critical reasons to vaccinate children.
The first reason is to protect the child. Although many children experience mild cases of COVID-19, there is no guarantee that the disease will be mild.
The second reason is that children are then able to protect the vulnerable populations in their lives, including older family members as well as those who cannot receive the vaccine.
Children also contribute to general immunity or herd immunity, thereby protecting the entire population from COVID-19 variants and strains.
Older adolescents aged 16 and 17 have been allowed to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine since it was approved in December. The other two vaccines approved by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in the US were not available to minors as studies are ongoing.
“I’m so confident this vaccine is safe. It’s the best chance to protect your children and family members,” said Manning. She named the vaccine the right step and the corresponding next step.
Robert Frenck, MD, director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s, addressed parents’ safety concerns. Frenck is the lead researcher for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine studies at Cincinnati Children’s and oversees other studies being conducted at the medical center.
“With the teenagers, they don’t get that sick much of the time. So they don’t know they have COVID. They think they just have a cold and it’s just a cold for them. But the problem is that they can get on with it pass it on to someone else who can get really sick, “said Frenck. “The other problem is that the likelihood of developing COVID very severely in a young person is lower, but not zero.”
Over 300 children in the US have died from COVID. More than 1,400 have been hospitalized and millions have been infected with the virus, Frenck said.
Children over 12 years of age receive the same dose of vaccine as adults. Studies have shown the same vaccine safety profile regardless of age, gender, or gender, meaning children have the same symptoms and outcomes as adults, according to Frenck. The most common effects of the vaccine, according to Frenck, are pain at the injection site, fatigue, and muscle pain.
“We’re ready. As soon as we get final approval,” said Manning. Cincinnati Children’s hosts vaccination clinics on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Currently, children require parental permission for vaccines, but parents do not need to bring proof of age to an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome at Cincinnati Children’s Vaccination Clinics.
Manning hopes Children’s will also work with schools and that the vaccine will be available from general practitioners. She said. “We have to work to get vaccines where people are.”