Coastal Empire doctors plan for vaccine approval for 12-15 year-olds

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Local doctors say it is likely children older than 12-years-old will soon be able to get Pfizer’s version of the coronavirus vaccine.

Back in March, News 3 reported that the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received data from the company’s clinical trials that indicated the vaccine was safe and 100 percent effective on 12 through 15-year-olds.

It is possible that the FDA could approve the vaccine for use on the age group as soon as this week.

“I very strongly believe it will benefit those parents, it’ll benefit their children and most importantly everyone who’s around that child,” said Dr. Stephen Thacker, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, and the chief associate medical officer at Memorial Health.

He says a decreased demand for the vaccine means that now is a good time to start vaccinating another population.

“There’s a lot of families that are ready, waiting, and ready to go,” said Dr. Thacker who has an adolescent son. He says, personally, he is choosing to get him vaccinated.

Sara Docar, a southside Savannah mother of two, says her family will also be choosing vaccination.

“Having everyone’s life totally stop for so long… it’s time to get back in the swing of things and if the vaccine helps then I’m all for it,” she told WSAV News 3 Tuesday at Daffin Park.

Dr. Thacker says annual check-ups are a good time to ask any remaining questions about the vaccine. Though children are at lower risk of severe complications from the virus, he says the vaccine is important for its ability to protect others, especially other children.

“That will potentially include some children who were very high risk for infection who may not be able to receive the vaccine in a timely fashion, who might not have an immune system that can respond appropriately to vaccination, so the only way we protect them is by protecting the community around them,” explained Dr. Thacker.

Until the FDA authorizes the vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds, Memorial Health does not have concrete plans on how to vaccinate the age group.

Dr. Thacker says mass vaccination sites may not be appropriate. Instead, he says he is already speaking with local pediatricians to make plans for the coming days or weeks.

If the shot is approved for use, Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (SCCPSS) Lead Nurse Lisa Wilson said in March that family vaccination days may be a reality for the age group.

But she says even if all students and staff are vaccinated, it will be a long time before SCCPSS goes back to an “old normal.”

“Vaccination is not the end all be all to COVID-19. So the fact that we possibly can have a classroom of vaccinated students and a teacher that was vaccinated does not guarantee that someone in that class we will not have COVID-19,” said Nurse Wilson.

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