Despite go-ahead from Pfizer, some parents still concerned about vaccinating young children

Posted at 10:44 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 10:45:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Allie Carpenter said that she is thankful that her daughter Clara is back in school. However, there have been a number of setbacks with COVID-19 cases in her daughter's first-grade class.

"There's already been people in her classroom who have been exposed and sent home. I would say probably one-third of her class has been out since the beginning of the year," Carpenter said.

Amid her growing COVID concerns, Carpenter felt a wave of relief on Monday when Pfizer and BioNTech announced that trials of its COVID-19 vaccine were safe and effective for children ages five to 11.

Carpenter said that she plans to get the vaccine for her daughter as soon as FDA regulators give it the go-ahead.

"And her pediatrician said 100 percent, absolutely it's the right thing to do," Carpenter said.

However, not all parents are convinced. According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation Poll, 25% of parents said that they would get the vaccine for their children right away. Another 25% said they would not.

40% of parents said they would wait and see.

"One of the primary concerns families have had is 'has this been studied enough that we have enough information?'" VCU pediatrician Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough said that according to Pfizer's clinical trials, children who received low-dose shots developed virus-fighting antibodies about as well as older populations that received two typical shots of the vaccine.

The companies tested a two-dose regimen of 10 micrograms which is about a third of the dosage used for teens and adults.

"So we've been able to say the earliest children participating are a year out from their enrollment and we have long-term data from them. We've also been able to vaccinate hundreds of millions of individuals, so we have a large volume of data to be able to say these vaccines are safe and effective. They are helping to prevent patients from ending up in the hospital and worst of all, from death," Kimbrough said.

Carpenter said that while she initially had some doubts about the shot, she feels more confident moving forward.

"It's always kind of scary to be a parent and potentially expose your kid to something that they may have to deal with later in life, but I think that happens all the time," Carpenter said.

The Pfizer vaccine has already been fully authorized in the United States for those age 16 and up and is available for 12 to 15-year-olds under emergency use authorization.

Pfizer said that the youngest population should be able to receive the vaccine as early as Halloween.