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Local pediatrician stresses importance of COVID shots for children

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 11:23 PM EDT
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - On Tuesday, the CDC director signed off on emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine for kids 5-to-11.

That means 28 million children are now eligible for the vaccine. We spoke with a local pediatrician about the decision now facing parents.

It’s a huge milestone and maybe even a turning point in the fight against COVID. Many children’s hospitals and pediatricians have already received doses of the Pfizer vaccine for kids and are ready to put shots in arms as early as Wednesday.

The doses are here and ready to go. Right now, the vaccine is sitting in a refrigerator at North Augusta Pediatrics waiting for their chance to protect local children.

“The goal of the vaccine is to keep them from dying from it,” said John David Allen, North Augusta Pediatrics.

And while it’s rare, our area has seen children die from COVID. At least four since the delta variant spiked in August. We’ve also seen higher numbers of kids admitted to the hospital since then, as well.

“One of the reasons we need to vaccinate children is that children can be a pool for the virus,” said Allen. “So I stress to parents the vaccine is safer than getting the disease.”

North Augusta Pediatrics has already scheduled appointments for kids to get the shot Thursday in anticipation of the CDC’s approval.

“We received 600 doses today and we will keep ordering them as we need to,” he said.

And doctors like April Hartman are hopeful the vaccine will go beyond helping protect kids’ health.

“What we are seeing is kids are falling behind in school, they’re failing, they are not learning because they didn’t do well with the virtual thing,” said Hartman, medical director of outpatient pediatric children’s services at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

But the challenge to get shots in arms will likely be an uphill battle. Many parents are concerned.

A recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found only 27 percent of parents plan to get their kids vaccinated right away. Doctors know it will be up to them to explain the reasons why it’s so important.

“When parents have concerns about the vaccine I completely understand the hesitation because it is a brand new vaccine,” said Allen.

So what should you expect after your child gets the vaccine?

“Some redness maybe a little soreness,” said Hartman. “Usually there is no side effects at all.”

Last holiday season, we saw a spike in COVID cases so doctors are determined to get kids vaccinated in time to slow that down.

“So if we can get the children vaccinated in the next three or four or five weeks then they will be prepared for the holiday season and events,” said Allen.

“We want them to be able to do the things that we all enjoy doing,” said Hartman.

You can reach out to your pediatrician or the health department for information to get your child vaccinated.

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