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‘A shield around my family’: FDA panel endorses Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - An FDA advisory panel voted to recommend the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

The FDA still has to make its own decision to authorize it, before it goes to the CDC advisory committee next Tuesday.

The final step is the CDC director giving final approval on the Emergency Use Authorization.

Parents in Charlotte are talking through the decision they have to make for their children.

Stephen Wilson is a father of two sons.

His 8-year-old Jayceon could soon be eligible for the vaccine.

“I’ll probably be leaning more toward yes than no,” Wilson told WBTV.

He says it’s a tough decision to make, but getting vaccinated was the right call for he and his wife.

He says it likely will be for Jayceon too.

“Your kids go out to school and daycare and you never know they could contract it and bring it back to you guys, or you could contract it and give it to them,” he said.

If authorized, kids between 5 and 11 would get a third of the dose given to people 12 and older.

“It is a different vial, so that’s helpful in sorting out from a safety perspective,” Dr. Nikki Nissen with Novant Health said. “We have pharmacists on site that oversee that process and we use barcode scanning to make sure adults or children get the right dose.”

Dr. Nissen says she understands every parent has to make the right decision for their child.

Father Clayton Pannasch says he has to consider his daughter’s underlying health conditions.

“It’s an extra level of due diligence,” Pannasch told WBTV. “We want to make sure the people responsible for do it are doing it, before we agree to say ‘hey yeah our kid is ready for it.’ That’s really our only concern.”

Health experts recommend taking those concerns to your child’s pediatrician.

For Wilson, he sees it as a step towards more protection.

“If I could put a shield around me and my family, I would hope everyone else would put a shield around themselves and their family also,” he said. “I believe the vaccine is really out here doing that.”

To get to this point where Pfizer sought Emergency Use Authorization, the company studied almost 2,300 children between the ages of 5 to 11.

Each child got two doses of a 10-microgram shot.

Pfizer says there were fewer side effects in this age group, and no cases of myocarditis.

Vaccine providers have been planning for this authorization for months.

In a statement, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris told WBTV:

“Mecklenburg County Public Health will be providing vaccines to 5-11 year olds at all of our vaccination sites as soon as it is approved by CDC and we have the vaccine on hand. We are working with all of our vaccination partners and all except MedAssist have confirmed that their sites that are listed on the County website will be providing the pediatric vaccine as well. As mentioned all are dependent on Emergency Use Authorization and CDC approval. Other options for accessing this vaccines are being developed and will be announced once confirmed.”

Hospital systems Atrium and Novant Health are also preparing to roll out the shots in pediatrician offices and other vaccination sites.

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