Local doctor feels relief after FDA authorized Pfizer vaccine for kids as young as 5

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the green light to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11 for emergency use.

Dr. Richard Kang, the Chief of Pediatrics at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Center, expressed "excitement and relief" at the news of FDA approval under emergency use.

"I'm glad now children 5 to 11 years old have the option of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. This will provide more protection not just to themselves but the rest of the community as well," he said.

RECOMMENDED: FDA authorizes Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11

Kang said vaccinating children can help the U.S. potentially reach herd immunity levels, and said the more people who are vaccinated in the country helps prevent more variants from becoming prevalent. 

"This will provide more protection not just to themselves [kids ages 5 to 11], but the rest of the community as well," said Kang. 

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Kang said the 5 to 11 age group has experienced 5,000 cases of MIS-C, an inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 for kids.

"In this age group specifically, we've seen over 100 deaths, which is not an insignificant number. We know children can spread the virus just as much as older children and adults and the vaccine, not only does it protect themselves, but it does protect spreading of the virus. Children are less likely to get severely ill but they're not completely free of harm from this virus so I would definitely recommend getting the vaccine to protect your child," said Kang. 

Kang described the Pfizer study used to test the vaccination on children. 

"In the study, they used one-third of the dose that they use in older children and adults so this lower dose was proven effective and prevented COVID-19 in over 90% of the children who received the vaccine so not only was it a safer dose with side effects that we saw similar in older children and adults but it was definitely effective in terms of providing protection. I've looked at the data and of course the FDA has looked at the data very meticulously and it found that not only is it efficacious but it's very safe in terms of side effects," he said.

Dr. Kang said he still recommends masks for children in schools. 

"Let's say 80% of the school is vaccinated. Those 20% are still unprotected so those 80% that are protected can still contract the virus and spread it to those that are unvaccinated so I would still recommend wearing a mask until vaccination is closer to 100%," he said.

Kang added that he "100%" supports vaccinating kids. 

"I would 100% recommend getting your child vaccinated. It'll get us one step closer to normalcy and hopefully out of this pandemic soon," he said. 

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