Leading Duke pediatrician: I would definitely vaccinate my children against COVID

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.

Duke University pediatrician Dr. Michael Smith

“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.

Source: NCDHHS

 

Bill to block Governor from from mandating vaccinations passes state House

Measure targets powers that Gov. Cooper has never sought to exercise

Backed by Republicans, a bill that would prohibit the Governor from mandating vaccination through executive orders passed the state House Monday. The bill (HB 572) also adds a highly specific provision to the statutes governing the rule-making process of government agencies — prohibiting agencies from penalizing those who refuse to be vaccinated when the agency requires vaccination as a condition of license receipt, renewal or reinstatement.

“This bill prevents the Governor or any of his agencies from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations through executive action,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, one of the primary sponsors of the bill, said in a statement. “This decision should be up to each individual, not the Governor.”

The bill cleared the House 74-39 Monday, welcomed by dozens of supporters of the bill who applauded at its passage, most without any face covering.

As Policy Watch previously reported, some Democrats voiced their opposition to the bill at a committee hearing. Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said the executive branch has a role in emergencies such as widespread deadly diseases.

Gov. Roy Cooper has encouraged North Carolinians to seek vaccines. In an ad urging North Carolinians to claim their spots for available shots, Cooper was joined by leadership from both parties — Republican House and Senate leaders Tim Moore and Phil Berger, as well as their Democratic counterparts Robert Reives and Dan Blue, all stressing the importance of vaccination to protect public health.

Cooper set a goal of achieving a vaccination rate of two-thirds of all adults before lifting the mask mandate, according to a press release. However, he has not issued any mandates ordering any groups to be vaccinated.

Rep. Larry Pittman, a Cabarrus Republican who co-sponsored the legislation, proposed an amendment adding a section granting businesses immunity from civil lawsuits if they treat employees and customers equally regardless of whether they’ve received a vaccine approved by the FDA for emergency use.

Yet the amendment was ruled out of order and failed to be adopted.

Ken Sweet

“The vaccines need to be fully tested in experiment,” Ken Sweet, a supporter of the bill said. “It hasn’t been tested and they’ve also been eliminating all the liabilities on it.” He said he is not against vaccines in general but has not gotten any of the COVID vaccines.

The bill made headway on the same day that the FDA authorized the Pfizer-bioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 to 15, after testing its safety on 2,260 participants, including 1,131 who received the vaccine and a 1,129 control group.

More than $350B in federal recovery cash starts rolling out to states, cities, counties

50% of NC adults are now vaccinated against COVID-19. A legislative spat showcases why getting more on board only gets harder from here.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced a significant milestone Thursday in ending the pandemic – more than 50% of adults (18 and older) in our state have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 43% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated against the virus.

While those numbers are impressive, legislators in the House Health Committee demonstrated this morning just how difficult it will be to reach herd immunity.

Rep.Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) urged the committee to advance House Bill 572, prohibiting a vaccine mandate by executive order, rule or agency.

Rep.Keith Kidwell

“The government cannot force one to take an injection of any type into their body. It’s all about freedom people,” said Kidwell.

Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) said the bill was ‘unworkable’ making it difficult for the Governor, the Secretary of Public Safety and the State Health Director to make a decision in an emergency situation when they must also seek the concurrence of the Council of State.

“The governor has no say in what I put in my body,nor do any agencies or government entities,” Kidwell asserted. “We’re talking about the same language that I’ve heard so many times from people on the other side of the aisle, being it’s my body, it’s my choice.”

Rep. Insko tried again to explain the difference during a pandemic.

Rep. Verla Insko

“I want to have control of my body. But there are instances where I am a danger to other people. I do not have a right to make somebody sick. I do not have a right to spread a deadly germ. Someone has to take care of the community.”

Kidwell balked at her reasoning.

“If the you’ve had the vaccine, why do I need it? If the vaccine doesn’t work, and you’re still afraid of getting the bug, why do I need the vaccine? Because it’s not going to protect me, if it’s not going to protect you,” Kidwell argued.

Rep. Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke) voiced his own concerns.

“I’m trying to understand when the legislature is supposed to be involved. Is the emergency such as the pandemic an opportunity for the governor and for Sec. Cohen to rule by fiat?”

Rep. Gale Adcock (D-Wake) offered that the state does play a role in non-emergency times in mandating certain children’s vaccines.

“We’re under unusual times. We’re trying to do the best we can to make the right decisions quickly for our entire population, and I’ll leave it at that,” said Adcock.

Rep. Insko said it was wrong to think the governor would independently make a decision about mandating a vaccine.

“The governor would not be making that decision alone. But India is an example. We don’t want to have the kind of things here that are going on in India.”

Rep. Donny Lambeth, who co-chairs the health committee, said he appreciated the debate, but it should be a matter of choice.

Rep. Donny Lambeth

“I made the decision with my family to get the vaccination. I would make that decision again. That was a personal decsion,” Lambeth said. “I encourage you to support this [bill], give individuals the freedom to make that choice, but I also encourage you to think very hard about getting the vaccination.”

House Bill 572 passed on a voice vote, and advances to the Rules Committee.

Kidwell is also sponsoring a separate bill [House Bill 580] that would make it unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire a prospective employee if the employee refused to get a vaccine or provide proof of vaccination.

For his part, Governor Roy Cooper toured a vaccine clinic in New Hanover County Thursday, focusing on education to combat vaccine hesitancy.

“The more we encourage our loved ones to get their vaccine, the sooner we can safely do all the things we want to do,” said Cooper.

North Carolina has set a goal of getting get two-thirds of adults vaccinated with at least one shot in order to lift the indoor mask mandate and ease other public health recommendations.

COVID-19 has claimed 12,738 lives in North Carolina since the beginning of the pandemic.

States with higher vaccine demand will be able to request more from the feds