WNY pediatricians say FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine should reassure parents

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BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Local pediatricians are hopeful that we’re getting closer to having vaccines for children younger than 12 years-old, now that the FDA gave its stamp of approval on the Pfizer vaccine.

“I think we’re making major strides,” said Dr. Kathleen Grisanti, who’s the president and medical director of Pediatric and Adolescent Urgent Care of WNY. “I don’t think that there’s no reason, almost no reason, for people who are healthy, not to get the vaccine.”

The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and up. Children 12 to 15 can still receive their shot, under the FDA’s emergency use authorization.

Grisanti says this should give parents peace of mind.

“The FDA has a very stringent process, and so for it to get the stamp of approval from the FDA, I think that should be reassuring many many people,” she said.

She expects vaccines for children younger than 12 could be approved as early as the end of the year.

“They’re doing their due diligence to make sure that it’s going to be safe in younger children so I do think we have to be patient,” Grisanti said. “I think that we’re all hoping that it’ll be approved for children 5 and older by the end of the year, but we have to wait and see as the science unfolds.”

Healthcare officials say one of the benefits of school aged children receiving the vaccine is that if they are exposed to COVID-19 it lessons the amount of days they won’t be inside the classroom.

“They have less requirements for quarantine and so their learning day, their school day, won’t be disrupted,” Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said during a news conference Monday. “For the parents of vaccinated kids, if they can go to school, again they don’t have to worry about figuring out how to take care of their kids and how to get their kids connected to virtual learning.”

Getting vaccinated also lessons the chances for kids to be hospitalized.

According to Oishei Children’s Hospital, 10 children were hospitalized in both April and May of this year, those numbers have since gone down.

“The number of pediatric COVID-19 related admissions has been relatively low in our region in recent months, contrary to what other children’s hospitals in the U.S. are currently seeing as a result of the more transmissible Delta variant. We’ll continue to monitor these numbers as kids go back to school and we move into the fall and winter months. We encourage adults and kids to continue wearing masks, maintaining a safe distance from others and to consult their physician or family’s pediatrician to get vaccinated as we all work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Elizabeth Ortolani, Senior Public Relations Specialist, Oishei Children’s Hospital and Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute

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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