ROCHESTER, MN – Monday marks another important milestone against the virus as the vaccine will be available to all people in the US age 16 and older.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 300 children have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
“Some of these were healthy children and so we cannot yet clearly predict which child is at risk for serious illness and which is not. So that’s one of the reasons we want to use a protective measure that we have,” said Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic.
Protective measures like vaccination, something pediatricians at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester say, may soon be available for people 12 to 15 years old. Pfizer recently released trial data for that age group to the FDA.
“That research showed that the vaccine is very protective, 100 percent protective against symptomatic diseases in teens. They generated a very robust antibody response to the vaccine. No safety concerns were identified, so really exciting data for all of us in pediatrics,” said Dr. Rajapakse.
Pediatricians at the Mayo Clinic said they expect the FDA to approve emergency vaccination for 12- to 15-year-olds when they return to school in the fall, but children under 12 may have to wait a little longer.
“Those studies are still ongoing and we expect to have some information from those studies by the end of this year. So the approval of vaccines for that age group could be around 2022,” said Dr. Rajapakse.
Once vaccinations open for children under 16, pediatricians at the Mayo Clinic are urging parents to vaccinate their children to prevent them from developing long-lasting symptoms if they get COVID-19.
“Some people with relatively mild initial disease with COVID-19 may go on to develop long-term persistent symptoms. You may have heard it referred to as long-haul COVID or COVID. That’s a clinical syndrome. we are still learning about it, “said Dr. Rajapakse.
Most importantly, the Mayo Clinic pediatricians say vaccinating children will be a huge step forward in achieving herd immunity.
“It’s so important to get those kids vaccinated. About 20% of the US population is kids and we need about 75% to get immunity. Kids will be key,” said Dr. Joseph Poterucha, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician.
For more information on vaccines and children, visit the Mayo Clinic website here.