INDIANAPOLIS — Currently, the only vaccine authorized for 16- and 17-year-olds is Pfizer's two-shot coronavirus vaccine. But on Friday, Pfizer asked the Food and Drug Administration to expand emergency use of its vaccine to those as young as 12.
The director of infection prevention at Riley Children's Health said they've been fielding questions from parents on everything from the safety of the vaccine to side effects and efficacy.
Dr. John Christianson said the Pfizer vaccine has an excellent track record on safety.
"The FDA looks very carefully at side effects and one of the things they do is they will not release a vaccine to be used in children unless they're certain it's safe in adults and that's been the case," he said.
He noted Pfizer's phase three clinical trials showed the vaccine was not only safe for children but extremely effective.
"It looks pretty clear cut if you have 100 percent protection," he said.
As for side effects? Trials have shown them to be similar to what adults can experience: possibly a fever, soreness at the injection site, and some muscle aches, but no other major issues.
Christianson said getting children vaccinated is the key to achieving herd immunity and returning to normalcy.
"Having the whole cohort of family members vaccinated and protected against COVID opens the opportunities to do things, especially visiting grandparents," he said.
He suspects it won't be long before younger children become eligible for the vaccine. Duke Health is one of four hospitals involved in Pfizer's phase 1 trial for kids ages 5 to 11. It will soon include those as young as six months.