What parents need to know about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 5:23 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The FDA and a CDC advisory committee are meeting next week to potentially give Emergency Use Authorization to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15.

This also comes as the company applies for FDA approval of its vaccine for ages 16 and older, which is currently being administered under Emergency Use Authorization.

Atrium and Novant Health are working through plans to provide the shot to the expanded age group as soon as possible once it is authorized next week.

“We will initially see a lot of early adapters,” Dr. Ashley Perrott with Novant Health said.

Dr. Perrott expects vaccine demand for kids between 12 and 15 years old to be high at first.

“And then I think we will see some parents who have received the vaccine themselves be concerned about their children receiving the vaccine,” she said.

Doctors say it’s important to remember the shot was studied in this age group.

Out of 2,260 participants between 12 and 15 years old, 18 people reported contracting COVID-19.

All of the people who were infected were in the placebo group.

This means 100% efficacy of this vaccine in this age group.

Dr. Amina Ahmed with Atrium Health says she hears concerns over mRNA, so she wants to clear up any misconceptions.

“Will it alter my DNA, will it affect my genetic material?” Dr. Ahmed said. “This is just a piece of genetic material that enters your cell, but does not enter your cell nucleus, which is where your DNA sits. It does not interact with your DNA.”

Charlotte mother Jenni Blanzy suggests other parents do the research she is doing.

“Read the articles objectively and pay attention to what is fear mongering and what is scientific evidence, right?” Blanzy said.

When it comes to side effects, doctors expect them to be similar to that of adults.

That means if temperature checks are part of your child’s entry to school, these side effects are worth considering as you schedule your child’s shot.

“Planning ahead for that is always a good idea so choosing to have the vaccine when there is no school the following day,” Dr. Perrott said.

Both hospital systems plan to offer the shot to kids similarly to how they have with adults in mass vaccination sites.

There is also a shift right now towards offering it in more primary care doctors offices.

Mecklenburg County is in talks with CMS and other schools about potential vaccine events for this age group.

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