Doctors reassuring parents, teens that COVID-19 vaccine is safe

Coronavirus

HILLSBOROUGH Co., Fla. (WFLA) — Anyone 16 or older will be eligible for coronavirus vaccinations on Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week.

However, parents have many questions and concerns about whether their child should get the shot.

Although those 18 and older can get any COVID-19 vaccine, teenagers ages 16 and 17 can only get the Pfizer shots, the only one approved by the FDA for teens.

To get the vaccine, those between 16 and 17 must have their parent or guardian’s permission.

Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall.

In a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15, preliminary data showed there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared to 18 among those given dummy shots, Pfizer reported.

Pfizer and BioNTech are also testing its vaccine on children 5 to 11, and plan to start dosing children 2 to 5 next week. The study will also evaluate the vaccine in the 6 months to 2 years cohort.

An LX News poll found that Generation Z, the generation born between the mid-to-late 1990s and the early 2010s, is particularly disinterested in the vaccine.

The poll found that 26% of GenZers say they wouldn’t get the shot. That’s up from last March when only 5% said they would not.

Dr. Michael Teng with USF Health tells 8 On Your Side that parents and teens shouldn’t be too concerned.

“The Pfizer vaccine included 16 to 17 years olds, so they can show that it was safe,” Teng said. “Physiologically there is very little difference between a 16 and 18 year olds. It has nothing to do with their ability to respond to a vaccine.

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County says by Monday, more than 1.2 million Hillsborough County residents will become eligible for the vaccine.

Teng says we could see more younger children get the vaccine soon, and we could see more options for them too.

“I imagine Pfizer will come out with their data within the next month or two and Moderna will not be far behind, both vaccines have enrolled the trial down to 6 months of age, so end of summer, beginning of fall that data will be out,” Teng said.

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