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Pediatricians welcome Pfizer news on COVID-19 vaccine for children

(Vials containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY –   Pfizer and BioNTech announced their COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children, ages 12-t0-15.  Dr. Andrew Pavia said the news he read brought a smile to his face. It’s based on a study of more than 2,000 children. 

Not only does the study find it safe, but it also shows the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children is %100 effective.  

Dr. Andrew Pavia, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Diseases, and the Director of the Hospital Epidemiology program at Primary Children’s Hospital said it’s important for three reasons:

First, it protects children. Pavia said the virus has killed more than 300 young people. It has sent hundreds of thousands to hospitals and left others with severe complications.

Second, it protects other vulnerable people.  “Teens are important spreaders,” Pavia said. He said getting them vaccinated allows them to interact with others and decreases the risk to family members.

Third, it’s another step toward so-called herd immunity.  

Pavia expects the vaccine will get approval relatively soon. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said. “But I think that’s going to be inside of two-months in all likelihood,” Pavia said. The challenge then will be getting the COVID vaccine into the arms of children, especially those in under-served populations.

Another problem might be hesitancy. “I think with a new vaccine, that reluctance that parents have to try something new is a very legitimate concern,” Pavia said. “So we have to make sure that information is available, that it’s available from trusted sources.”

Pavia said there are “significant pockets” in Utah where there is hesitancy toward vaccines in general. To combat that, he said they’ll have to communicate reliable information on the COVID vaccine for children through family healthcare providers.  “They want to hear messages from people they trust,” Pavia said.