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Pfizer approves COVID vaccine for use in children; FDA to review their data

Dr. Schieffelin assures parents there is zero evidence in human and animal studies that the vaccine affects future fertility.

NEW ORLEANS — A COVID vaccine for school age children is one step closer to being available.

Monday, Pfizer announced their COVID vaccine is safe and effective in children five through 11-years old.

Now, the pharmaceutical company must give all of that data to the FDA to review for its decision.

We spoke with parents in car pool line about the COVID vaccine for their grammar school children and some can't wait.

“I'm a registered nurse and I absolutely plan on giving my children the Pfizer vaccine when it is approved,” said one mother.

“I am planning to get my son vaccinated because me and my brother were both vaccinated for everything under the sun, so I’m continuing that tradition,” said another mother.

“I’m very interested in having my grandchildren vaccinated,” said a grandmother waiting in line.

But other parents want more information.

“I want to wait, because this vaccine is totally new, I think,” said another mother.

So as Pfizer begins the FDA approval process for children five through 11 years of age, we got answers from pediatrician Dr. John Schieffelin, who specializes in infectious diseases.

“This is great news. We've all been eagerly awaiting this news,” said Dr. John Schieffelin, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Tulane, who practices at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.

He reminds parents the Delta variant sent more children to the hospital and according to the Louisiana Department of Health, took the lives of 15 children and teens younger than 18. And even with numbers going down now he says we need to stay ahead of new variants and surges.

“So, we're a little optimistic that we've passed the peak, but you know with the winter season coming up, we're all a little on edge still," he said.

Dr. Schieffelin assures parents there is zero evidence in people and animal studies that the vaccine affects future fertility.

“There's no evidence at all that that happens, that mRNA gets into those organs or that the protein that it codes for gets into those organs,” he explained.

And he says several hundred women who went through the clinical trial got pregnant, and had healthy babies.

There were also no side effects of heart inflammation.

“The good news is none of the children enrolled in the Pfizer study experienced myocarditis or pericarditis,” Dr. Schieffelin said.

He reminds parents that children who catch the virus can have lingering health problems.

“So, there are children having chronic fatigue, having that brain fog, so yet one more reason to get vaccinated and prevent them from experiencing those problems, Dr. Schieffelin said.

He says, right now, unvaccinated children and teens are driving the current wave and taking hospital beds from other young patients.

“Even though it's come down for all the other age groups, that drop that decline in the wave is seriously lagging in this five to 17-year-old age group, so we have got to get those kids vaccinated," he said.

Vaccinations could also help them have a normal school experience he said.

And if the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children, it will be only one-third the dose that is given to teens and adults.