Local health and school leaders discuss FDA authorizing Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12-15

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Local health and school leaders say Pfizer’s emergency authorization for young teens may lead to more normalcy for children.

While it is less likely than adults, doctors say younger age groups can still feel the effects of COVID-19.

“The infection that kids get with COVID generally is mild, generally, but not everyone,” said Dr. Nora Philbin, Pediatrician at UnityPoint Health.

Philbin says in some cases the virus having a lasting impact on young ones.

“We’ve actually had quite a few teenagers and adolescents who actually gotten very ill and have had the long haul COVID,” Philbin said.

After the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for the 12-15 age range, health providers may soon have a new tool at hand to fight the pandemic

“It seems like every time we open up a new rung of individuals that can get vaccination, we start to see to much more urgency to get that vaccination,” said Sarah Overton, Chief Nursing Officer for OSF Multi-Specialty Services

Overton explains that vaccinated more age groups will also help Illinois reach Phase 5 of reopening.

As for what it could mean for schools, the Superintendent of Peoria Public Schools says it could bring a more normal education experience.

This includes vaccinated students not being required to quarantine if in close contact with COVID and being able to further enjoy extracurricular activities.

“They can participate in summer camps, in summer activities, and other events over the next few months and they don’t really have to worry about anything,” said Dr. Sharon Kherat, PPS Superintendent.

Doctors explain as families make decisions on vaccinations, that communication will play a big part.

“Educate yourself on the clinical trials, educate yourself on what the experts are seeing, so that you can come together as a family to form those opinions and respect each other,” Overton says.

Overton says that OSF Health has earmarked Pfizer vaccine for younger groups and they don’t anticipate any shortages.

Kherat says that PPS will work with medical professionals to make shots as accessible for students as possible.

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