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The push to vaccinate preteens: What pediatricians and parents have to say

Moderna announced its vaccine is safe for children as young as 12, joining Pfizer in the push to get kids protected from COVID-19
Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 9:32 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Preteens are the latest group being encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Teenagers that were vaccinated did not get COVID,” said Dr. Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This is really exciting news.”

On May 10, the Pfizer vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration for kids ages 12 to 15. Goza explained the decision came after several studies of the vaccine’s efficacy and side effects.

“The side effects were very similar to what we see in the adult population,” she said.

Experts say children typically are at a lower risk for severe COVID-19 infection, but Goza says there are still benefits to vaccinating them.

“Our children need this vaccine to be able to get back to doing the things they like to do,” she said.

On May 25, Moderna announced last week their vaccine is 100% effective in teens age 12 to 17. Goza said trials are ongoing for children under 12 with both vaccines, opening up more questions and concerns from parents for their pediatricians.

“If it’s you, you’re willing to take more of a risk,” said Keri Rodrigues of the National Parents Union. “But if it’s your baby...it’s like, ‘Oh my gosh.’”

Keri Rodrigues is the founding president of the National Parents Union, which represents lower income and minority parents across the country.

She says she’s hearing questions from parents about the unknown long-term impacts, including cancer risks and fertility concerns. But what parents really want, Rodrigues says, is for health officials to address their concerns as clearly and honestly as possible.

“What we’ve been saying is we need more information,” Rodrigues said. “We need communication, we need more translation and interpretation for different communities.”

Rodrigues says most parents she knows do want their children vaccinated, but they want their decision to be as informed as possible.

Rodrigues says that the National Parents Union met with the Surgeon General to express their concerns. She said the Biden administration has told them they are committed to working more with parents.

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