Baldwin pediatrician offices recently started to receive the Covid-19 vaccine after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on its use Nov. 2 for children as young as 5 in a 14-0 vote.
Baldwin mom Rachel Silberstein Guarneri took her 10-year-old quadruplets to get vaccinated within the first week after approval. Kyra, Aaron, Zoey and Athena, who attend Meadow Elementary School, all told the Herald that they were happy to be vaccinated.
“I've had my kids tested more times than I can count,” Silberstein Guarneri said. She cited concerns over the spread of Covid-19 in schools as the primary reason to have her kids vaccinated, saying, “A lot of children in school don't wear their masks properly; some take them off completely.”
Almost 6.2 million children nationwide have been infected since the start of the pandemic, and more than 65,000 have been hospitalized and 718 have died, according to federal data. In the past year, Covid-19 is one of the top 10 causes of death for this age group. The American Academy of Pediatrics has seen more than a 6 percent increase in cases among children from this past week, and kids made up about one-quarter of all new cases in the past month.
On Long Island, the Covid-19 positivity rate has increased to more than 3 percent, after falling to under 2 percent. The number of Long Island children infected, however, remains a mystery, as New York is one of the few states that does not report children’s statistics. Medical experts concur that Covid-19 will not go away until people get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
The Baldwin School District is ready to address the new vaccination rollout for children. “The Baldwin Union Free School District is working with Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital to arrange for the VaxMobile to provide access to the pediatric Covid vaccine," said Dr. Shari Camhi, superintendent of schools.
Final approval of the vaccine came four days after the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Children ages 5 to 11 receive two 10-microgram doses administered 21 days apart, a third of the adolescent and adult dose. According to the CDC, dosages are determined by age, not size or weight, and children should receive a dose based on their age on the day of vaccination.
Certain parents are still on the fence, however, over vaccinating their kids. Elizabeth Douje vaccinated her children already, as they are older than 11 years; however, she expressed some reservations. “I do feel children under the age 10 may be too early…I wouldn’t have if they were under 10,” she said.
“How could they test the long-term side effects that quickly?” stated Steven Davis on social media. “There are countless class-action lawsuits about drug side effects. All those were approved safe at one point.”
Pediatric clinical trials for the vaccine, which included more than 3,000 children who received it, found it to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19. Safety data from the trials found the most common reactions were pain at the injection site, fatigue and headache, as reactions were mostly mild or moderate.
According to the Mayo Clinic and CDC findings, the Covid vaccine can prevent children from getting and spreading the virus, and if a child tests positive, the vaccine could prevent severe illness and long-term complications. Additionally, children with other health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and asthma, might be at higher risk of serious illness if infected by Covid-19.
White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said during a virtual White House briefing last week that 15 million child-sized doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine already are being moved from Pfizer's freezers and facilities to distribution centers. And while not mandated, the federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.
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