A Turning Point in Vaccinations

A Turning Point in Vaccinations

Mia Burke

Over the past several months, parents, lawmakers, and school administrators across the country have expressed complete urgency in getting those over the age of 12 vaccinated. Meanwhile, many have been wondering if the vaccine would be demonstrated safe and effective for young children, and when it would be authorized following clinical trials. This past Tuesday evening, the CDC provided us with these long awaited answers. 


CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has announced that she is supporting the recommendation to vaccinate children who are ages 5-11. Walensky addresses this major change, stating, “We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine.” 


Understanding the fear many parents face vaccinating their young children, Walensky suggests parents address their concerns with their pediatrician, school nurse, or local pharmacists, to learn more about the vaccine and why it is crucial that their young children are vaccinated. 


In terms of administering these vaccines to young children across the nation, the White House has said that the program will begin in full speed next week. On Friday, October 29, the US FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11. In Pfizer’s clinical trial, the vaccine was demonstrated to provide 90.7% protection against symptomatic disease for young children. Notably, the dose is a third of the amount those 12 or older receive. This smaller dose also alleviates some of the risks for initial side effects. 


Throughout the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a notion that children are strong enough to fight off COVID-19. While younger immune systems have proven to be able to defend more so than adults and those over the age of 65, recent reports have shown a disproportionate number of children infected with COVID-19. These reports make it even more important for younger children to get vaccinated. 


With the speed the vaccines have been developed, fear continues to exist among parents that the vaccine is not safe for their children. While parents may wish to wait and see how more young children react to the shot before vaccinating their own children, pediatricians across the board warn that waiting is incredibly risky. Getting vaccinated is even more crucial for children that have known underlying conditions. 


Having the younger population vaccinated is a huge step in getting things back to “normal”. The more vaccinated individuals, the closer the United States is to herd immunity. Although the vaccines were pushed out relatively quickly, they have proven effective. This news continues to remind us that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we are in fact nearing that light.