SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Dr. Stephen Thacker is a prominent pediatrician working in infectious disease in Savannah, but he’s also a dad.
He thinks word of Pfizer’s latest approval to provide a COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is good news.
“I think this moment is really important for all of our communities in the U.S.,” said Thacker.
The vaccine received emergency authorization use Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control. By Wednesday, some states were already giving the vaccine to some of those younger children.
Thacker expects local providers to quickly follow.
“The formulation of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, it’s a third of the dose that was received in the adult vaccine and it’s still a two-dose series spaced by a goal of about three weeks,” he explained..
Thacker also said the formulation allows for longer refrigeration, up to 12 weeks, which makes it more practical for individual doctors to offer it as they don’t need the large refrigeration units needed when the adult vaccine first came out last year.
“And because of that, a lot of pediatricians and family medicine providers were proactive at securing shipments and so some practices in the area already have access to the vaccine,” he said.
The state health department has ordered up to 145,000 doses.
This latest news makes another 900,000 children in Georgia (from 5 to 11) eligible. Youngsters 12 and over have already been getting the vaccine as well as adults.
“You’re now talking about 94 percent of the population, which is a big number, that has access to the vaccine,” said Thacker. “For me, as a parent who very much wants to keep my kids healthy and in school in person as much as they can be, this is going to be a key strategy for me to keep them well.”
He believes the shots may provide many parents peace of mind, but also recognizes other parents may see the shots as risky. Thacker says if you have a trusted pediatrician or family doctor, talk to them.
“But there are going to be a lot of parents who have natural questions and it’s appropriate to say, you know, I really want to make sure I’m informed as a parent when I’m making this decision for my child,” said Thacker.
He believes the younger children’s vaccine will be what the country needs to ensure a schoolyear where kids stay in school. Thacker also says, even for his own children, he believes “the benefits outweigh the risks.”