AUSTIN (KXAN) — America is waiting to find out if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will give emergency use authorization to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 years old.
Pediatricians here in Austin are preparing for the potential approval. One doctor at Austin Regional Clinic said the vaccine is perfectly safe for most kids.
“What I try to explain to parents is that the technology for the vaccine is very safe because it’s not a live virus or a dead virus or a piece of virus. It’s a protein vaccine — what it means is you’re basically giving your body a blueprint to fight this virus,” explained pediatrician Dr. Jacques Benun.
Last fall, ARC enrolled children ages 12 to 17 in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
In March, Pfizer said children had similar side effects to young adults, including pain, fever, chills and fatigue, typically after the second shot.
Austin Public Health is also encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated once the vaccine is approved.
“We encourage parents of middle schoolers and high schoolers as soon as that is approved, to sign up with vaccinators who are providing Pfizer vaccines, and get their children vaccinated certainly before the beginning of the next school year, but as soon as possible would be even better,” outgoing Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said Wednesday.
The Baxter family said their 13-year-old daughter, Caroline, is anxiously awaiting the vaccine. The Baxters, like some parents, have concerns about their child’s reaction to the vaccine, but know that this is a path toward more normalcy.
“You always have a concern about what’s going into someone’s body. In this case, it’s what we think is for the better good,” said Andy Baxter, Caroline’s father.
Dr. Tim Porter of Modern Pediatrics said he has reviewed the clinical data and is encouraging patients to get the vaccine if it receives EUA. He’s also preparing for challenges related to storage.
“At the end of the day this is great news, but there are the ultra-low freezing temperatures that are required for the Pfizer vaccine, much lower than any other vaccines we receive,” Porter said. “Additionally the volumes of shipments that are required, our minimum number of vaccines in order to receive them right now are really high.”
Porter does have a refrigerated medical bag that allows him to transport the vaccines to his patients. He is working with the state to get a manageable number of vaccines if the Pfizer vaccine for younger children gets approval.
Several Central Texas school districts are already planning to work with vaccine providers or host popup vaccine clinics to help get students vaccinated for COVID-19.