covid-19 vaccine

NY Tells Parents to Book Vax Appointments for Kids Soon; Pfizer Vaccine Effective for Children

The nationwide study covered 19 hospitals in 16 states during the period when the delta variant became prevalent

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Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is 93% effective at keeping kids ages 12-18 from getting sick enough with COVID-19 to be hospitalized, according to a new study released by the CDC Tuesday.

The study of 19 hospitals in 16 states -- including New Jersey's St. Barnabas -- covered the period of June 1 to Sept. 30, which means it took into account the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. Data increasingly indicates the delta variant is more dangerous for kids than other types of the virus.

Of 179 kids hospitalized with COVID at the study hospitals, the study's authors said, 173 were unvaccinated, and 77 of those ended up in the ICU.

Of the six vaccinated kids hospitalized, none of them ended up in ICU or on life support.

The vast majority of the cases happened in southern states, and nearly half of them were just last month. Almost three-quarters of the kids had an underlying health condition, most commonly respiratory.

As of Monday, the study noted, only 46% of kids ages 12-15, and just 54% of kids ages 16-17, are fully vaccinated.

That comes as the Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster shots, and ahead of Pfizer possibly getting FDA approval as soon as next week for their vaccine to be administered to children ages 5 to 11. Full approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could come in early November.

While families will have to wait for that, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Tuesday that they shouldn't wait to schedule an appointment for their younger children.

"I'm telling parents, make your appointments now. You don't want to hear the first appointment is in February," she said at a press conference.

Dr. Joseph Sellers, a pediatrician and president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, which represents about 30,000 doctors in the state, said appointments may be difficult or impossible right now because the vaccine logistics need ironing out. 

"We don’t know how quickly the vaccine will be in our hands — it’s a different dose. A different colored bottle with a different top so we don’t mess up," Sellers said. "The governor may be making more work for us, but I’m glad that she is."

With 1.5 million kids in that age range statewide, there’s plenty at stake. On Tuesday, the state launched a new web site with more readily available COVID data, such as vaccine rates by zip code and the number of breakthrough infections — which is low and stable for now. Hochul said that New York is "in a holding pattern" at the moment, which she called " a good place to be."

When asked if telling parents to make their own appointments now puts too much of the onus on them, Hochul didn't seem to think so.

"I’m just saying, I know how hard it is to make a pediatrician appointment, calling to make their appointment makes sense," the governor said. "But I would love to see more available (vaccinations) in schools."

Hochul said that she is open to reopening mass vaccination sites, such as the Javits Center in Manhattan. When when asked if she supports mandating the COVID vaccine for children, she said that she's "looking at it a little more short term," and that would be something to be debated for Fall 2022.

Copyright NBC New York
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