Rochester pediatrician: Pfizer vaccine for kids 5-11 to be available by early November

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The FDA advisory panel voted Tuesday to recommend emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11.

To discuss what this means locally, Dr. Michael Pichichero, a Rochester Regional Health pediatrician and VP of the Rochester Regional Health Research Institute, held a briefing with media Wednesday morning.

“What does this mean in the bigger picture? It was to be expected,” Dr. Pichichero said. “They [vaccines] will be highly effective, just like like they were in adults. The immunity level of 5 to 11 is very similar to 11-16. It doesn’t change much.”

In terms of symptoms, Dr. Pichichero reassured that all age groups who received the vaccine will succumb to similar if not the same indicators, should they get sick.

The doctor said the FDA’s voting results reflects the safety of the vaccine.

“17-0; what does this vote mean in safety concerns?” Dr. Pichichero said. “The discussion for 5 to 11-year-olds, the risk of the vaccine seemed to be very low. There is a minor concern in a cardiovascular point in boys more so than girls, but the chances are similar to be struck by lightning.”

According to the doctor, the important thing with this approval is it will help keep kids in schools, as well as protect the teachers and staff around them.

Dr. Pichichero says that the decision to vaccinate children is up to parents.

“It’s very important that parents are given the choice,” Dr. Pichichero said. “There was a lot of worry that schools were going to install a mandatory mandate, but nevertheless, that choice should be available to every parent. The high risk kids are obese, any immunocompromised conditions, but the choice a parent makes needs to be up to the individual. I will recommended for my two granddaughters, but I do agree that this is a choice and not be mandatory.”

The doctor says vaccines should be available to kids aged 5 to 11 soon.

“If the pattern holds true, we can expect the FDA, within the next day, to recommend it,” Dr. Pichichero said. “This vaccine could become available to kids in the first week of November.

“Vaccine availability is high for all brands for older ages,” Dr. Pichichero said. “I don’t think this will take a long time at all.”

The doctor said the vaccine for kids 5-11 proved to be 90% effective. He says issues of Mild Myocarditis were found to have occurred in about 1 in 125,000 cases — meaning people have higher odds of being struck by lightning or dying in a motor vehicle accident.

Dr. William Gruber, the senior vice president of Pfizer vaccine research, told the FDA advisory panel that Pfizer’s vaccine was found to be safe and effective.

“There were very few serious adverse events and no related adverse events and no deaths,” said Dr. William Gruber, the senior vice president of Pfizer vaccine research.

Jen Kates, the director of global health at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said Pfizer’s vaccine was highly effective even though kids 5 to 11 received just 1/3 of the adult dose.

“Very, very high efficacy — over 90% efficacy of the vaccine in preventing severe COVID for kids,” Kates said. “Children are not immune, some children do — when they become infected — do get quite sick, some children die… children get infected with COVID and transmit.”

Some advisers expressed concerns over possible side effects and whether vaccinating children will actually reduce transmission rates.

But the panel voted to recommend the vaccine, saying the benefits outweigh the risks.

The FDA will still have to finalize emergency authorization, after which the CDC will decide exactly how the vaccine will be rolled out for the younger group.

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Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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