NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In a couple of weeks, children ages 12-15 will likely be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine pending emergency use authorization.
Thousands of kids are getting vaccinated in trials across the country, and now Pfizer is requesting emergency use for 12 to 15-year-olds from the Food and Drug Administration. For some, it's a game-changer according to the vaccine research program director at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
"Those teenagers with heart transplants, or with chronic medical conditions, or those who live with parents or grandparents who may be at particular risk for COVID, it is essential that we have a vaccine for them," Dr. Buddy Creech said.
Creech says Pfizer's vaccine is considered 100% effective in preventing middle and high school students from getting sick according to reports. If exposed at school, vaccinated students won't need to quarantine. "It also allows those children to stay in school if there is a case in the classroom because they’re going to be protected themselves,” Creech said.
Some parents said they were wary to get their child vaccinated, but others said their teen can't wait to get the shot. "Life truly changes after vaccination," Creech said.
Creech is participating in research with the Moderna vaccine and how it impacts children. "I think having our teenagers vaccinated, it adds one more sizable group of our population that can play an important role in protecting our communities," he said.
Creech said his older children have been vaccinated, and he's looking into trials for his 9-year-old. "We’re in a different spot because we all had COVID, but even though we had COVID, my children went ahead and got vaccinated," he said.
He said it's about protecting vulnerable populations, and could help get students safely back to the classroom. "It’s not just about whether I need it as an individual, it’s about whether or not I and the people around me would benefit from having that vaccine," Creech said.
Various trials are enrolling children 6-months and older this summer. It's likely elementary school children will be able to get the vaccine in the fall if all goes as planned.
In early data, children had similar side effects to the vaccine as adults who got the Pfizer one according to Dr. Creech. So far, researchers haven't seen any children with severe reactions, but they will be collecting data for years to come.