As FDA decides whether to approve Pfizer vaccine for kids 12 to 15, parents face choices

Paul Losavio and his three kids, who are 13, 10, and 7, have spent much of the last year together, often outdoors and hiking, although his kids do not always look thrilled to be there in his photos.

"I'm hoping in about 10 or 15 years, they'll look back on this and think those were the good old days, we had a lot of fun," Losavio says.  "But, sometimes, it's like pulling teeth."

Still, the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dad worries his kids have missed out on a a lot in the pandemic: school dances, birthday parties, hanging out with their friends.

"And I think it's kind of heartbreaking to think you can't get back your 13th year, for instance, or your 10th year," he says.

Losavio, who received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine three weeks ago, and will get the second dose later this week, sees vaccinations as the way out of the pandemic.

He says he will get his children vaccinated as soon as the FDA authorizes children to receive the COVID vaccine.

In Pfizer's clinical trial testing its two-dose vaccine in just over 2,200 volunteers from 12 and 15, the company says its vaccine was 100% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, which is better that protection rates in adults.

Amber Schmidtke, Ph.D, a microbiologist who tracks the pandemic in Georgia for her online newsletter, says she, too, will get her sons vaccinated.

"I know for a lot of parents, the pandemic won't be over until our children are also safe, and I definitely feel that way," Schmidtke says.

Because kids and teens make up such a large chunk of the population, about 25% of all Georgians, Schmidtke says we cannot reach herd immunity," or the point enough Americans are protected from the virus to shut down the spread of it, without vaccinating children and teens.

And, even though most COVID-19 infections in kids are less serious than adults, she says, it's still important to protect them as much as possible.

"The reason I worry most about that is because of the possibility of long COVID," Schmidtke says.  "That's something, that, my kids have a lot of life to live, and the last thing I want to do is to get them infected with a disease that could hamper their ability to run or play or breathe, (or cause) blood clots or complications.  I don't want any of that for them."

Paul Losavio sees getting his children vaccinated as a chance to help them regain some of what they have lost in the pandemic.

"I think we're itching to be protected with the vaccines and ready to get back to normal life," he says.

The FDA is set to make a decision on expanding the emegency authorization of the Pfizer vaccine to teens and tweens ages 12 to 15 in the next few days.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are also conducting clinical trials in younger children as young as 6 months of age.

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