Vaccine hesitance in adults may slow Pfizer child vaccinations

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The FDA has green-lit the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old. Pfizer reported their vaccine is 100-percent effective in for kids in that age group.

The next step is for the CDC to give its stamp of approval. That is expected to come Wednesday, along with guidance on how to roll out the vaccine for children.

Vaccine hesitancy in adults, however, may have an impact on vaccinating children.

Caleb Chung gets his Pfizer vaccine as part of a children’s clinical trial at Duke.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found about 20 percent of parents say they definitely will not have their child vaccinated. Another 15 percent say they only plan on doing so if schools require it.

These numbers showing the work pediatricians have ahead of them.

Caleb Chung was one of the first children under 16 to get a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the clinical trials at Duke. He said he had mild side effects after he got the shot.

“Not really too terrible. I just had to take the day off from work and stuff,” Chung said.

He’s hopeful his participation in clinical trials means his friends can soon get their vaccine, too.

“I just believe strongly in science and I believe that these vaccines will be safe and effective and a great way to help us get back to normal,” Chung said.

Going into the next school year, Chung’s father is glad to know his son will be safer.

“This is the perfect opportunity for us to expand protection and really as a society try to move past the pandemic as soon as we can,” said Richard Chung.

Moving past the pandemic might take some convincing of parents with just 30 percent of parents saying they would have their children vaccinated right away, according to that Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

Leading clinical trials for children at Duke, pediatrician Dr. Michael Smith said he would vaccinate his own children.

“I do think we, as a medical community, as a pediatric community, need to get out there and respond to parents who have specific questions about vaccine safety. That’s really the hard part going forward,” Smith said.

Smith said trial participants will continue to be monitored for the next two years. It’s unclear if children will need a booster shot but for now, Smith said the benefits of the vaccine seem to outweigh the risks.

“Let’s be clear, kids are affected by this. Certainly, some children do get admitted to the hospital. Certainly, some children do die from this. So, the risk is not zero,” Smith said.

As a father and a pediatrician himself, Richard Chung said he understands the concern.

“I see in that and hear in that someone who is just trying to do the right thing for their kid,” he said.

Ultimately, he hopes parents can see the vaccine has proven to be safe.

Side effects in children 12-15

Injection site pain, fatigues, and headache were the most common side effect in children in the 12 to 15 age group. Pfizer reported side effects were similar between the 12 to 15 age group and the 16 and over age group. Below are side effects seen after the first and second doses.

Injection site pain86%79%

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