LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The fight against the pandemic is including the youngest yet with the Food and Drug Administration clearing the way for children starting at age 12 to receive the two-shot Pfizer vaccine.
The announcement came on Monday after regulators announced the emergency use authorization had been approved.
"I do anticipate, at some point, they will mandate these vaccines for school-aged children," said Dr. Michael Levin, a pediatrician and principal investigator on coronavirus trials in Southern Nevada.
Dr. Levin says the announcement means it is crucial for kids to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
“Children can be, perhaps reservoirs for COVID and may be able to spread the disease to other people," explained Dr. Levin.
Dr. Levin notes that children do not appear to be as severely impacted by the virus as compared to older adults, however, children who are infected with COVID-19 do run a risk of developing multiple inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, for short.
"I have a small practice here and one of my patients actually got multiple inflammatory syndromes in children. He was 12 years old and his family had COVID in about three weeks later he got very sick," explained Dr. Levin.
The child had to be hospitalized and treated with steroids.
The boy has since recovered but Dr. Levin says it is unknown what the lasting impacts could be.
"When I talk to parents and I talk to people in general, they feel like, well why do we need all these vaccines for, we don't see what difference they make and that's because these diseases have been essentially eradicated by the vaccines," explained Dr. Levin.
Those diseases include polio and measles which have been targeted by vaccines for decades.
Still, vaccine hesitancy, especially with the newly-developed COVID-19 vaccine linger.
Lorena Llamas, a parent, says she received her vaccination but has lingering concerns about her child and whether the shot is right for the youngest in the population.
"I have a daughter who is about to be 16, and a son who is 13," said Llamas.
"I just don't know what the long-term effects will be," added Llamas.
Llamas says her daughter was diagnosed with COVID-19 and still does not have her sense of taste or smell nearly 6 months later.
Dr. Levin notes the available and authorized vaccines have been deemed safe and effective and says research is likely already underway for even younger children.
"They like to start with adults first, then they generally move to teenagers and then further down the age groups," said Dr. Levin.
The Novavax trial which we are currently enrolling, is expected after this stage, to start a 6 to 11-year-olds, I haven't heard anything beyond that about going lower," said Dr. Levin.
Dr. Levin says the current Novavax trial he is associated with is enrolling children ages 12 to 17.
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