BEAUMONT, Texas — Pfizer announced Monday that research shows their COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children ages 5 to 11, and that they will soon seek authorization for that age group.
Many Southeast Texas health professionals and school officials are thrilled about the latest development and believe it will be a real game changer, especially as they try to keep schools open. Doctors believe vaccinating kids will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Southeast Texas has seen an overall increase in COVID-19 cases within the past two months, especially within school-aged children, according to Dr. Praphul Joshi, associate professor of public health at Sam Houston State University.
Joshi said that local hospitals are saturated with COVID-19 patients.
Joshi believes the approval of the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 could reduce COVID-19 transmission rates within schools and reduce the number of children having to miss class due to positive cases.
“Having kids taking the vaccine, especially the little ones, also drives the family to get vaccinated as well,” Joshi said. “So hopefully, when family visits a place, everybody can go get vaccinated, so that should be a good thing.”
Joshi said that children will receive a third of the dose adults receive which reduces the chances of side effects, and getting kids vaccinated should also ease some of the anxiety parents and teachers have had for months.
“I'm very excited about Pfizer coming out with the vaccine," Mary Ekene, Southeast Texas parents, said.
While Ekene is fully vaccinated, her two daughters are not due to them being 4 and 8 years old. However, Ekene said that will change if the Pfizer vaccine is approved.
“We're living in a time where COVID-19 is increasing,” Ekene said. “And yes, people may have their fears about the vaccine, but you know what, life is short. So, I believe everyone should just be protected. Be vaccinated. Look out for your fellow neighbors."
Ekene recently had to get her 4-year-old daughter tested because a classmate tested positive.
“Those are the precautions as parents, as adults we need to take daily for our children,” Ekene said. “So yes, I for one again, I’m for the vaccine."
While some Southeast Texas parents said they will be the first in line to get their kids vaccinated, Beaumont doctors fear that some will not bring their kids at all.
“That will be a big issue in this area, I think,” Dr. Ramona Ataya-Dakour, Beaumont pediatrician, said. “I mean, just like we had a lot of resistance with the vaccine for adults too, so I expect that's going to continue on with children."
If the Pfizer vaccine is approved for kids it could not come at a better time,
with pediatric hospitals full of COVID patients and school in full swing, Ataya-Dakour said.
“Since school started is when we started to see a lot of the COVID-positive kids, and this is going to be a great new layer of protecting our children in school and hopefully having a more normal school year," she said.