‘I think it’s very encouraging’ Local health and education leaders react to Pfizer’s new vaccine announcement

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Pfizer recently announced its vaccine is very effective in a younger age group, and local health and education officials said the information is encouraging.

The Chief Clinical Officer for OSF Healthcare, Dr. Steve Hippler, said generally speaking, children don’t get as sick from COVID-19 as other age groups, but it doesn’t mean they are in the clear.

“Some kids can get very sick. We’ve had children hospitalized here in Peoria at the children’s hospital with severe COVID,” he said.

With multiple vaccines approved for adults, one manufacturer is now focusing on kids. Currently, individuals 16 and older can only receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

This week, the company announced that a phase 3 clinical trial revealed its vaccine is 100% effective for those aged 12-15.

“I think it’s very encouraging that they’re testing it in younger individuals, and it’s found to be very safe in that age range as well,” said Dr. John Miller, UnityPoint Health VP of Medical Affairs.

Not only do doctors say the development is a positive sign for preventing more illness, but they explain vaccinating children is the best chance for herd immunity.

“About 30% of the population is kids and the belief is that we need up around 70-80% for herd immunity,” Hippler said.

Peoria County’s Regional Superintendent of Schools, Beth Crider, said Pfizer’s results bring optimism for normalcy in the classroom.

“We want our students back in school with face-to-face instruction. We just know that’s the best way for kids to receive their education and vaccines are one way to get that done,” Crider said.

Pfizer officials said they plan to submit the data to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks. The company hopes shots can begin going in arms before the start of the next school year.

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