Local pediatricians encourage parents to get their kids ages 12 to 15 vaccinated once appointments are available

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BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Now that children as young a 12 can get vaccinated, local pediatricians are encouraging them to roll up their sleeves when appointments are available.

“This is an important milestone because I think number one it’s going to help protect children from the potential long term effects of COVID-19. Number two, it’s going to help decrease the spread and number three it’s going to help decrease any new variants that are around,” said Stephen Turkovich who’s the chief medical officer at Oishei Children’s Hospital.

The FDA announced this week that the Pfizer vaccine us authorized for emergency use in children 12 to 15 years-old. Turkovich says there’s nothing that indicates the vaccine will be harmful to a younger age group.

“Well the good news is they studied over 2,000 children age 12 and above in this and they noticed that the side effects are very similar to the side effects we see in adults,” he said.

Side effects including a sore arm, fatigue, headache and for a small percentage, a slight fever. Turkovich based on the research the symptoms last a day or two.

Kathleen Dyson, who’s a pediatrician at Orchard Park Pediatrics says parents keep asking if the vaccine will effect fertility in their kids down the road. Dyson says she believes that concern started off as a rumor and is not true.

“There’s no reason to think that it’s going to effect future fertility, there’s no scientific proof or rational to how that would even happen,” she said. “So we don’t as pediatricians don’t have any concern about that and we’re very excited to get our kids vaccinated.”

Several residents News 4 caught up with say they’re excited more people are eligible for the vaccine.

“I’m real happy about it because I think it’s one step closer to getting as many children back in school as we possibly can,” said Joanne Steinmetz, who’s fully vaccinated.

“I think if people are willing to follow the science they would realize it’s not a dangerous thing, that it’s still safe for our children,” Kathleen Whitefield, who’s also fully vaccinated, said.

Pediatricians say they’ll be working to reassure parents who are on the fence with getting their kid vaccinated.

“I understand that there’s a lot of concern and hesitation out there, because this is a new vaccine and parents always want to do what’s right for their children so I greatly respect that,” Turkovich said. “The first thing I would recommend is to have a conversation with your pediatrician or family doctor and walk through those questions and concerns that you have.”

“If they get vaccinated now then they can get their second dose in three weeks, and then two weeks after that they’re considered fully vaccinated and they can do their summer camps, they can do their get togethers with their friends we’ll just be a much safer community and decrease the rate of spread,” Dyson said.

Facilities are now waiting on the CDC and the state before they can start administering the vaccine to 12 and 15 year-olds.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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