Local doctor happy with FDA endorsement of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids as young as 5 years old

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s panel of experts on Tuesday endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids as young as five years old.

The latest marks a key step in making the coronavirus vaccine more widely available for children in the 5-11 age range.

Dr. Rishma Chand, a mother of two children and a Pediatric ICU doctor at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital, spoke with FOX 11 following the approval from the FDA panel.

"As a mother, and as a pediatric ICU doctor, I can probably speak for myself and most of my colleagues, if not all, and say we are thrilled. We've been waiting months for this to occur. It's going to help us get out of the pandemic. Masks have been working, medication guidelines have been working but this is something we need to help our children feel safe when we're sending them to school," said Chand.

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Dr. Chand said vaccinating kids in the 5 to 11 age group will help kids resume a more normal lifestyle too.

"Having this vaccine available for our pediatric group is going to help our children feel safe while they're in school, at restaurants and this is going to help us achieve herd immunity," she said.

Chand said vaccinated adults and adolescents are receiving 30 micrograms per dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the 5 to 11 age group will receive lower doses with 10 micrograms per dose.

"Every vaccine we give is something that's based on their weight, their age, and their body so we don't want to give an adult dose to the pediatric population. This 10 microgram dose has been tested in this age group from 5 to 11 and has been found to be safe and we know that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. I'm glad that they [scientists] waited [on the vaccine for the 5 to 11 age group]. I'm glad they took months to test this and they tested it on thousands of kids and they've found that it was safe," she said.

Chand said myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, was not found to be a side effect with the 5 to 11 age group.

"Myocarditis was a concern with the older population, the adolescents, but they didn't find any cases of Myocarditis in this age group so there have not been significant things that have occurred in this population. If you're hesitant as a parent and you're still deciding if your child should be vaccinated, I would talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns whatsoever," she said.

Chand said the data does show children are affected by coronavirus too and said it is important to vaccinate them against the virus.

"In this age group from 5 to 11, 1.8 million kids were diagnosed with coronavirus so it is definitely affecting kids. I mean almost 2 million kids were infected with coronavirus. This is not something that we should take lightly and think kids don't get infected. Kids do get infected, and kids do spread the virus, and kids do get hospitalized and even need mechanical ventilation in ICU care," said Chand.

Caroline Forte, a mom of five children, said she is looking forward to vaccinating her young children when it's approved.

"It will feel like granting them freedom, and I think they'll have a sense of relief too and it'll overall decrease anxiety. They've been waiting for so long so I'm happy," said Fortee.

Melissa Seeboth, who is also a mother, agreed and is happy some kids may be able to be fully vaccinated by Christmas.

"It's a good Christmas present. We can all be together. It means a sense of security. I know everything won't be normal but we'll have some sense of normality and a new normal which is where we're all protected and we're all safe and we're all able to stay together and that was a really hard lesson we learned last year," said Seeboth. 

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