Children's Hospital doctors assure parents COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children

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Posted at 5:37 AM, May 12, 2021

CINCINNATI — As government officials meet to discuss authorizing Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children, local doctors are telling parents the vaccine is highly effective and safe.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel is scheduled to meet Wednesday to decide whether or not to recommend the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12-15 years old. Doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital who tested Pfizer's vaccine on this age group said the vaccine is safe and effective at protecting children against COVID-19.

"It’s been incredibly protective," said Dr. Robert Frenck, the director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center at Children's Hospital. "The side effects have been mild."

Trials on this age group showed that the vaccine was 100% effective. Side effects of the vaccine are similar to those adults experienced, including a headache and muscle aches for a day or two.

“They may not be at the top as far as severe illness, but just as far as infections, the teenagers are up at the top," Frenck said. "That’s why it’s really important to vaccinate them. It gives them their own protection, but then trying to prevent spread to other people.”

The dosage given to children will be the same given to adults, but parents need to give their permission for their child to receive the vaccine.

Dr. Patty Manning, Cincinnati Children's Hospital's chief of staff, said if the CDC authorizes use of the Pfizer vaccine, they want to make the shot available anywhere it's convenient for children and families, including schools and doctor's offices. Manning said she and her team are ready to start vaccinating children as soon as they are authorized to do so at various locations, including schools and primary care centers.

"We strongly are going to encourage families to consider getting their 12- to 15-year-olds vaccinated along with their 16- to 18-year-olds," Manning said at a county COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.

Hamilton County Public Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and Ohio's governor will still need to approve administering vaccines to children ages 12-15. When that approval comes, possibly as soon as Wednesday, Kesterman said Hamilton County health care providers can begin administering Pfizer vaccines to that ages group as early as Thursday.

“Straight from this study, we know that this vaccine in this study was 100% effective at protecting those children or adolescents from COVID-19, so really exciting how effective this vaccine has been,” he said at a county COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.

So far, more than 44% of Hamilton County's total population has received a vaccine, or more than 357,000 people.