CLEVELAND (WJW) — The confusion began after the World Health Organization, or WHO, earlier this week urged countries to hold off giving children COVID-19 vaccinations.
Right now, the only vaccine that is approved in most countries for children over the age of 12 is the Pfizer vaccine. Extensive clinical trials have shown that it is safe for those 12 and over to use.
Doctors say the WHO announcement was not about discouraging the use of the vaccine but asking authorities in many countries to wait before using it on children right now. This isn’t about health issues with the vaccine, but something a lot simpler than that.
“The WHO is making recommendations for the entire world including countries where vaccines are very scarce whereas the CDC is making recommendations for the United States where vaccines are plentiful,” says University Hospitals Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Doctor Amy Edwards, explaining that the WHO recommendation is about actual access to vaccines.
In the United States and Canada, access to and quantities of the Pfizer vaccine are easy for both adults and children over the age of 12.
But many nations in other parts of the world, particularly in developing nations in Africa and Asia, the Pfizer vaccine is scarce or simply not available. And since it’s the only vaccine that is widely approved for those 12 and over, Dr. Edwards says the WHO is calling for those countries to put vaccinating the youngest patients down on the list of priorities patients.
“That’s why they left it vague saying that children are not a top priority for vaccination and they’re into and should be but here in the United States, it is appropriate to vaccinate children because all the adults that want to get vaccinated have access to the vaccine so there’s no reason to hold off vaccinating kids. It’s two different situations.” Dr. Edwards said.
She says right now all the studies indicate that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and is the best protection we have right now for children to prevent COVID infection. And she says it remains critical that vaccinations for U.S. adults with any vaccine, and for children with the Pfizer vaccine, continues because new variants remain a threat to everyone’s health.
“I would absolutely get your kid vaccinated. There’s no need to take that risk, no matter how low that risk may be, with your child’s health now that there is a vaccine to prevent it.” Dr. Edwards said.
Clinical trials are currently under way for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to see if they can also be used safely for children over the age of 12.
Ohioans looking to get vaccinated can find a location here.