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Coronavirus: 'The ability to vaccinate 5-year-olds and up will be critical,' doctor explains

·Senior Editor
·4 min read

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizing Pfizer (PFE)’s COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds on Friday is welcome news for millions of parents across the country.

Roughly 28 million children are now eligible for vaccination, according to the New York Times.

“If you look at a lot of the data, you’ll see that younger people, teenagers, small children, they’ve been responsible for a lot of the transmission of coronavirus,” Dr. Adrian Burrowes, a family medicine physician and CEO of CFP Physicians Group, said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “And while a lot of people will argue that children tend to do fairly well when they are infected, they are the center point, a lot of the time, for the adult infections.”

Children accounted for 25.1% of reported COVID-19 cases for the week ending Oct. 21, with 118,000 new child cases during that time. Overall, nearly 6.3 million children have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

“A lot of children go to school,” Burrowes said. “In my state, Florida, they’re fighting the mask mandate, so a lot of the kids may not be wearing masks, infecting the teacher who may be at higher risk, and putting that household, the teacher’s household, and the teacher’s life in jeopardy. Having the ability to vaccinate 5-year-olds and up will be critical in helping us to resolve this pandemic.”

A safe and effective vaccine

Currently, only those ages 12 and up are eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19. In the U.S., 57.8% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated, while 66.5% have received at least one dose.

“These vaccines have been given to billions of people around the world and hundreds of millions of people in the United States,” Dr. Ben Weston, medical director at Milwaukee’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center, recently said on Yahoo Finance Live. “We know that these are safe vaccines. We know they’re effective.”

A child wearing a mask plays with toys at kindergarten
Kindergarten children play with toys in a classroom at Montrara Ave. Elementary School in Los Angeles, on Aug. 16, 2021. (Photo by Xinhua via Getty Images)

The Pfizer vaccine is reportedly 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in the 5- to 11-year-old age group. For some parents who may be concerned about whether or not the shot is safe for their kids, Weston quelled those concerns.

“Specific to that 5- to 11-year-old age group, the studies have been done,” Weston said. “The experiments have been done. This isn’t experimental anymore. We saw an effective vaccine, and we saw a safe vaccine. There are going to be some side effects. There are going to be some sore arms. There are going to be some headaches, some body aches, some low-grade fevers.”

“But we didn’t see any serious adverse effects,” he continued. “So I think parents can be comfortable getting this vaccine for their children to protect them, protect their families, and protect their community.”

'I'm still in favor of mask mandates'

Although children are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19, they can still spread the virus just as easily as adults.

“I’m in the state of Florida,” Burrowes said. “We just came through one of the largest surges of the Delta variant nationwide. I’m still in favor of the mask mandates. One of the things that we have to understand is that even with vaccination, you can still acquire and spread COVID.”

Breakthrough cases, although uncommon, can happen. Just 0.02% of those with breakthrough infections were either hospitalized or died from the virus.

“Now it’s true — once you’re vaccinated, your risk of having severe symptoms, ICU stays, death is a lot smaller,” Burrowes said. “So I encourage vaccination to everyone that is available. But a lot of the population is not vaccinated, and so how we protect the individuals most at risk is to continue to wear masks. I’m in favor of that.”

Still, vaccination is the best option for protecting both children and adults. One study found that unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than their vaccinated counterparts.

“I’m also starting to see finally a lot of people get their initial vaccinations, either because it’s being required by an employer or because they’ve been scared because they’ve had a family member or a loved one pass away from COVID,” Burrowes said. “So it’s critical that we continue to try to increase the population’s immunity with both COVID vaccination and boosters.”

Adriana Belmonte is a reporter and editor covering politics and health care policy for Yahoo Finance. You can follow her on Twitter @adrianambells and reach her at adriana@yahoofinance.com.

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