FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids 12 to 15, pediatricians reach out to parents

Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu of Children's Medical Group in Decatur, Georgia, says they are already getting calls from parents of tweens and younger teens, who want to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use for children ages 12-15.

Shu says there is already a lot of interested from parents at her practice.

"We have an online system, where parents can book the appointment for their child in advance of the FDA's approval notice and ACIP's approval notice," Dr. Shu says.  "So, in my area, parents are ready; they're in line."

Still, surveys like the Kaiser Family Foundation's monthly "COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor" show parents across the U.S. have mixed feelings about vaccinating their younger teens and tweens.


About 30% say they would vaccinate their children as quickly as possible, once they are eligible.

A fourth say they definitely will not vaccinate their kids.

In the middle, there are parents who say they will only vaccinate if their child’s school requires it, and those who want to wait and see how other children respond to the vaccine.

"I think 'wait and see' is actually fine, but just don't wait too long," Dr. Shu says.  

She says about 2 million teens age 16 and older have received the Pfizer vaccine without any severe complications reported, and a COVID-19 infection is not always mild for children.

"Luckily children have been doing fairly well, relative to adults, but there is still a chance of children dying from COVID," Dr. Shu says.  "There is still as chance of children getting the multi-system inflammatory syndrome, MIS-C.  So far, about 400 kids have died in the pandemic, compared to maybe 180 in a bad flu year.  So, in my view, the vaccine is better than the actual infection, or taking the risk of getting the actual infection."

RELATED: FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15

For Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatrician and WebMD Medical Editor and mother of 15-year-old twins Dr. Hansa Bhargava, getting children vaccinated is a way to return to a sense of normalcy.

"Look, the kids need to get out," Dr. Bhargava says. "They need get back to their activities. Right now, the best protection for that is masks and vaccines.  And if you have vaccines, there is less (need for) masks outside, which is really nice for them. So, I would suggest this is a great way to protect them but also get back to a semi-normal summer."

As older Americans are getting vaccinated, the proportion of infections in younger people is increasing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says 22% of new COVID-19 cases are in children.

Dr. Shu and Bhargava recommend parents who have concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine turn to their child’s doctor.

"If parents have questions about the vaccine, and it's totally understandable that they do, I would encourage them to talk to their pediatricians, who are well-versed in the vaccines," Dr. Bhargava says. "We've been giving vaccines for decades."

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