School-aged kids in Austin-Travis County urged to get vaccinated as youth hospitalization rates spike

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s top doctor says area hospitals are seeing a rise in the number of patients ages 10 to 19 hospitalized with COVID-19 — and it’s high.

“This is the highest percentage of hospitalizations [for this age range] that we’ve seen since the pandemic began,” says Dr. Mark Escott, Interim Health Authority.

He says that in just the last week, eight children were hospitalized — including a three year-old.

“This is a warning for parents,” said Escott. “Even though the overall threat is decreasing in the community, their children are still vulnerable and will be vulnerable until vaccinated.”

With the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech for 12-15 year-olds, shots could begin as soon as Thursday, after a federal vaccine advisory committee issues its recommendations.

Studies conducted by Pfizer showed the vaccine not was only safe for teenagers, but that it also nearly eliminated all risk of catching COVID-19.

The company noted that some children have similar reactions to adults from the second shot including fever, chills, and aches.

Next up is testing whether the vaccine works for even younger children. Both Pfizer and Moderna have begun U.S. studies in children ages 6 months to 11 years-old. Those studies explore whether babies, preschoolers and elementary-age kids will need different doses than teens and adults.

Pfizer expects its first results sometime in the fall.

A mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic for school-aged children is planned at the Travis County Expo Center this weekend.

Travis County Judge Andy Brown says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may need to give the final approval but Escott says as far as he’s concerned the shot has been approved for the age group, saying: “Don’t wait any longer.”

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