UNC doctor sees many pros to vaccinating kids once CDC greenlights COVID-19 shot for children 5-12

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – This week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to greenlight Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, after the FDA authorized the shots Friday. 

Dr. Zachary Willis, who specializes in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, suggests getting kids their shots as soon as possible. 

“As soon as it’s approved, I would recommend going ahead and getting vaccinated,” Willis said. “Delta cases are starting to subside and that’s been very encouraging, but there is still a lot of transmissions.”

He said families will be able to worry a lot less about their children in school, either about them catching COVID-19 and getting significant symptoms or MIS-C (multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children), or getting it and spreading it to other members of their family this way.

According to the CDC, more than 5,000 children have been diagnosed with MIS-C, a serious, and sometimes deadly, complication of COVID-19.

CBS 17 asked Willis about the risk for heart inflammation that has occurred in rare cases after the vaccine – most often in teenagers and young men.

No cases of this, known as myocarditis, were seen during the trials.

“Cases of myocarditis after vaccination do seem to be related; they have mostly been mild and responded well to treatment,” Willis noted.  “We’ve seen a lot more cases of myocarditis from COVID-19 directly or from MIS-C, and if you don’t get COVID-19, then you can’t get those cases of myocarditis, and those don’t always do as well.”

He added, “On balance, I think the risk is going to be lower, even just of myocarditis, if your child is vaccinated.”

Willis said arm pain was the most common side effect in the trials. Some children also experienced fatigue and fever, though he said that occurred less frequently than in adults.

The child’s dose of vaccine is one-third the dose for people 12 and older. A CDC advisory committee is set to meet on Nov. 2nd and 3rd.

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