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Tampa pediatrician expects new wave of vaccine hesitancy among parents of little ones

Pfizer announced its vaccine for children ages 5-11 is safe and effective.
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Young child with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.

TAMPA, Fla. — Children ages 5-11 could soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Monday, Pfizer announced it will seek FDA authorization as soon as possible.

In Florida, school is in full swing, pediatric infections reached all-time highs, and the facemask debate is playing out in court.

Many parents are eager to protect their children through vaccination.

"My daughter is 8-years-old. She's lost two years of her life to COVID. That's a lot of your life when you're 8-years-old," said Dr. Jill Roberts, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida.

Roberts says once available, her daughter will be first in line for the vaccine.

Right now, children 12 and up can be vaccinated; but the process to get younger children approved took longer. That's because the process was more rigorous.

The FDA asked for six months of follow-up safety data, instead of the two months it asked for with adults. It also asked Pfizer and Moderna to double the number of children ages 5 to 11 in clinical trials.

"The dose is lower because they're smaller and their metabolism is very fast. With little kids, because their metabolism is very fast, they can be subject to more side effects from things," said Dr. Roberts.

Dosages for young kids are a third of what adults received. 

Tampa pediatrician Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care expects to see another wave of vaccine resistance. He's hoping to have meaningful conversations with families in the coming months.

"Understand why people have hesitancy, having transparency, being open and honest about things," he said.

Dr. Berger encourages his patients to weigh the pros and cons between getting the virus or getting the vaccine. He doesn't believe it's always one size fits all.

"For me, it’s about understanding where people are coming from," he said.

There could be a COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 by Halloween. So far, side effects are similar to what we saw in the adult population such as sore arms and fever.