YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 and up on Wednesday. Those shots can start Thursday.
None of the other vaccines have been approved for anyone younger than 18.
Scientists have done a lot of research on these vaccines, but there is still a lot we don’t know.
Still, a lot of parents have questions. One of the most common doctors at Akron Children’s hear is, “Will there be any long-term side effects?”
Dr. Michael Bigham said that’s simply not how vaccines work. They are administered, they trigger an immune response so your body builds up antibodies, and that’s really it.
Bigham said there’s no data to support any hidden, long-term side effects.
“The vaccine hasn’t been given in kids 12 to 15 for years, so we don’t know what the long-term consequences are. I think there are two things to be reassured by. Number one, we have decades and decades of vaccine development and vaccine experience. It’s really, really uncommon and not really biologically plausible to anticipate that a vaccine that I got today is likely to cause a complication in a year from now.”
There are still a lot of questions surrounding how long the vaccine is effective. The answer is unclear.
Right now, medical professionals say it lasts for at least six months, possibly longer. It’s expected that, eventually, we will need to get booster shots to stay protected. It’s not yet known how that timeline will work.
“I don’t think we know yet how long the vaccine is going to last for,” Bigham said. “Remember, just the first folks who got the vaccine got it in October. What we do know, particularly in children 12 to 15, that the immune response seems to be even greater than it does for the older individuals.”
The Pfizer vaccine is shown to be 100% effective in children 12 and up. None of the kids that were given the vaccine came down with COVID. More than a dozen who got the placebo did get COVID.
Some doctors in the area are already starting to schedule vaccine appointments for children. Call your doctor if you have questions about your child’s specific health needs.
Leaders with the Youngstown City Health District are also trying to change the minds of people who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Only a handful of city school students signed up to get the vaccine, and nurses say many parents simply don’t want their children to get it.
The city’s health commissioner plans to work with the schools to provide more information to students and their families.
“We’re going to work on something in the next couple weeks to do more of a bigger outreach to the parents and really to see how many of the students also maybe got it somewhere else. Do you know what I mean? That could have happened as well,” said Youngstown City Health Commissioner Erin Bishop.
Bishop believes those who really wanted the vaccine already have it. Now they will reach out to those who are hesitating for one reason or another.