Good news in the battle against COVID-19 this week as the Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted Pfizer’s request to allow their vaccine to be given to 12-15 years olds under an emergency use authorization.
Dr. Michael Smith, a Duke University pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, was involved in the pediatric trials of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Smith told the media during a Tuesday video conference that he would trust the vaccine with his own children.
“For me personally, I have no doubts about that. I wish my children were old enough to get this vaccine. I would definitely vaccinate them,” said Dr. Smith.”But I think there’s a lot of myths and rumors out there we need to work on dispelling.”
Roughly 2,300 hundred children nationwide took part in the initial study, with half receiving the Pfizer vaccine and half receiving a placebo. Just over 100 of those children enrolled in the study got the vaccine at Duke.
“If you got the vaccine in this trial, you did not get COVID.”
If the CDC signs off on emergency authorization on Wednesday, Thursday would be the first day shots could become available for children 12 to 15 years old.
It’s worth noting in that age group, the dosage of the Pfizer vaccine will be the same as what adults have received. Also, as with adults, this will be two shots, given three weeks apart.
Side effects are similar to what has been seen in adults, a sore arm, in some cases a mild fever.
“Once we get younger, we have to slow down things down a little bit and make sure we have the right dose that is safe for younger children and effective for younger children,” Smith explained.
The Duke clinic is currently conducting a smaller trial on children younger than 12-years-old to make sure they find that right dose for a smaller person.
Once they have than answer, they will begin work on a larger randomized, controlled trial of the vaccine down to children as young as six-months.
And even with thousands of additional young people soon eligible to get a protective vaccine, Dr. Smith believes there will not be a shortage.
“This would be a great problem to have that there’s so much demand that we run out of vaccine, but again there’s plenty of vaccine that can be made. I don’t see this being a problem down the road.”
Since March of 2020, North Carolina has recorded 39,053 (4%) COVID-19 cases in the 10-14 age group. Nearly 34,000 cases (3%) fall in the 15-17 age bracket.