Young kids in the U.S. will soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, raising questions about safety, efficacy and necessity among parents nationwide.
FDA advisers this week backed a lower dose of Pfizer's vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11, and both Pfizer and Moderna recently released studies that suggest their vaccines are safe for young children. The advisers offered unanimous approval with one abstention; some raised questions about the move's necessity at this stage but ultimately decided to support the recommendation. White House coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci said kids under 12 could begin getting the vaccine "within the first week or two of November." Roughly 28 million kids would likely become eligible for the shots. Both the FDA and the CDC are expected to discuss the recommendation sometime over the next week.
Vaccines for young kids have been covered prominently across the spectrum. Many reports from left- and center-rated sources highlighted experts who recommended that young kids get the vaccine once approved, and offered tips on what to know about the vaccines and how to describe the situation to kids. Coverage from right-rated sources often highlighted experts who cautioned against vaccinating young kids at this point in the pandemic; many right-rated voices criticized the push to vaccinate kids, arguing that the very low rate of death for kids who get COVID-19 means pandemic measures shouldn't necessarily apply to them.
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Snippets from the Right
"Just 195 children under the age of 4 and 442 between 5 and 18 have died from COVID-19 in the United States as of Oct. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are 15 times less likely to be hospitalized with the disease than individuals who are 85 or older, and 570 times less likely to die, the agency says."
"Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made numerous Sunday show appearances this week, where she dodged questions on vaccine mandates and when children can stop having to wear masks in school...Schools are considering easing their mask mandates as cases drop, which they have been doing significantly in Florida. "
Snippets from the Left
"Officials plan to make vaccines available for free at doctor’s offices, children’s hospitals, pharmacies, and school- and community-based clinics...However, some FDA advisory panel members voiced concerns over the lack of data on whether one dose, rather than two, might be sufficient; whether it was appropriate to recommend approving the vaccine only for high-risk children; or if the decision would be used to justify vaccine mandates."
"There is simply not an acceptable number of child deaths when such effective and safe preventive treatments are available. So, for the same reason pediatricians recommend seatbelts and car seats, we are recommending vaccines for Covid-19. Parents should feel assured that when the vaccines are authorized for children, it means they are considered extremely effective and side effects are rare. "
Snippets from the Center
"The remarks came on the same day that the FDA released data showing the Pfizer vaccine had a 90.7% efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in a trial of 5- to 11-year-olds. Regulators wrote that they weighed the benefits of the vaccine to its most extreme potential side effects, including myocarditis, a rare condition involving inflammation of the heart muscle."
"Another very strong predictor of parents' openness to immunizing their child under 12 is their own vaccination status. That is, 82% of parents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 say they would vaccinate their child, but just 1% of parents who do not plan to get vaccinated themselves say the same."