Louisiana pediatricians pen open letter urging families to vaccinate children against COVID

BATON ROUGE, LA. (KLFY) – A group of leading pediatricians and the Louisiana Department of Health State Health Officer, Dr. Joseph Kanter, released a letter urging families to vaccinate their children against COVID-19.

The FDA approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine for this age group last week, and the CDC recommended the use of the vaccine for this age group on May 12. The letter includes signers representing the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine; Tulane University School of Medicine; Ochsner Health; Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health and LSU Health Shreveport.

The letter is below in its entirety:

As pediatricians, we share your goal of keeping your child healthy and safe. The health and wellbeing of all children in Louisiana is our greatest responsibility and priority. We are proud of the many families who have volunteered to participate in the studies that have provided us with safe and effective vaccines to combat COVID-19. They volunteered so that we would all have the opportunity to protect our children and by extension everyone else in our families. For adolescents 12 and older and their families, that opportunity is now here.

The recent FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in 12-15 year olds and the CDC’s strong recommendation add a vital tool to the proven strategies that have protected our children over the past school year. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be safe and provides a strong immune response to the virus, especially in adolescents. Importantly, it has also been shown to significantly reduce the chances of someone unknowingly passing the virus on to someone else. Fortunately, the main challenges of the 2020-21 school year are now behind us, and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines gives hope that the ‘normal’ we all seek for our children and our families will come soon.

While most children have been spared serious complications, many have become ill from COVID-19, and some have been hospitalized and died. COVID-19 has spread through families, causing fear, disruption and sacrifice. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has already claimed the lives of more than 10,000 Louisians, including 7 children. Vaccination of adults and children is necessary to prevent the continued spread of this virus in our communities and the emergence of variants that threaten to prolong this pandemic.

Due to their social nature, teens have proven to be very effective spreaders of COVID-19. The availability of COVID vaccines in 12-15 year olds could make the next school year safer and more normal, but only if families and adolescents choose to get vaccinated.

At the beginning of the summer, we strongly recommend that parents of children 12 and older find out where COVID-19 vaccines are available in your area and get your child vaccinated as soon as possible. This is especially important for those who will be attending summer camps, traveling, spending time with friends, working summer jobs and returning to school in August. Vaccination against COVID-19 is important for the health of all our children.

The past year has brought challenges and disruptions to our entire lives, especially for our children. It has been our greatest honor to navigate these unprecedented times with you and your family to ensure the well-being of all children. Just as we went through the early frightening days of this pandemic together, we are here to help your children return to a sense of normalcy. For that reason, we insist that every child aged 12 and older gets the COVID-19 vaccine and gets caught up in other vaccinations that may be overdue. If you have any questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines, make an appointment with your pediatrician or call your pediatrician to discuss your concerns.

We know, and many Louisians will agree, that the risk to your child and your family of remaining unvaccinated is too great.

The letter is signed by the following doctors:

The Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Rachel Chatters, MD, Chairman | Lake Charles Joseph A. Bocchini Jr., MD, Vice President | Shreveport Ann Kay Logarbo, MD, At-Large Member | CovingtonBridgett Foreman, MD, Early Career Physician | AlexandriaElizabeth Seiter, MD, At-Large Member | Baton Rouge Kim Mukerjee, MD, Secretary / Treasurer | New Orleans John A. Vanchiere, MD, PhD, Immediate Past President | Shreveport

The Louisiana Department of Health

Joseph Kanter, MD, MPH, State Health Officer

LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine

Raymond G. Watts, MD, FAAP, professor and chief, department of pediatrics

Tulane University School of Medicine

Samir El-Dahr, MD, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics

Ochsner Health

William Lennarz, MD, Chair of Pediatrics

Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health

Shaun Kemmerly, MD, Chief Medical Officer

LSU Health Shreveport

Maroun Mhanna, MD, MPH, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics Connect Modal

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