LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -
COVID vaccines are continuing to rollout but questions still remain when it comes to vaccinating children.
Vaccines have been approved for people as young as 16-years-old and testing is underway for younger ages.
Pediatric Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. Nipunie Rajapaske with the Mayo Clinic says childhood COVID cases have been steadily increasing since last year.
“Last year in spring children made up about 2% of overall infections that we were seeing and more recently they’re making up to 18% in some areas of the country” Dr. Rajapaske detailed.
She adds most children have recovered from COVID-19 but the U.S. has still seen more than 300 child deaths, with some more unexpected than others.
“While some of them have had risk factors that may have increased their risk of getting a severe illness or dying from COVID-19 some of these have been healthy children,” Dr. Rajapaske said. “We can’t yet clearly predict which child may be at risk for more severe illness and which is not so that’s one of the reasons why we want to broadly use any protective measures that we have.”
Health officials are strongly recommending childhood vaccinations to prevent possible long-term COVID symptoms and to help achieve herd immunity quicker.
There is still hesitancy when it comes to vaccinating children, but Pediatric and Critical Care Specialist Dr. Joseph Poterucha believes safety studies should help ease parents’ minds.
“It’s safe and it’s effective, a lot of the reactions you might be worried about that may typically manifest six weeks after vaccination are not happening,” Dr. Poterucha said. “It’s been now nine months and we’re seeing good safety data.”
Dr. Rajapaske says trials are ongoing for children between 12 and 15-year-old, with data from Pfizer showing very effective results against symptomatic diseases.
Pfizer and Moderna are also beginning to enroll children from six months to 11-years-old in vaccine studies, but results aren’t expected until the end of the year.
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