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Mayo Clinic pediatric specialists discuss safety, importance of child COVID-19 vaccinations

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- With a COVID-19 vaccine still not yet approved for use in anyone under 16, health care experts realize parents are left with a lot to consider as we navigate this pandemic.

"We need to be honest with parents, that, kids that get [COVID-19] are having some unusual symptoms. We talked about the long hauler symptoms, there are a lot of unknowns…" said Mayo Clinic Pediatric and Critical Care Specialist Dr. Joseph Poterucha.

Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic Pediatric Infectious Diseases expert, echoed this point while emphasizing the volume of COVID-19 infections in children.

"We know that, as of April 8th, since the beginning of the pandemic, there's been over 3.5 million children who have been infected with the virus. They make up about 13-and-a-half percent of all people infected over the course of the pandemic," she said.

Pediatric health experts continue to promote encouraging facts surrounding COVID-19 vaccines in children. Pfizer has emerged as the frontrunner in that effort, asking the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization in people ages 12 to 15.

"And the initial data that they have shared publicly, looks really promising and really exciting," said Rajapakse talking about Pfizer's results. "So that trial, showed that, the vaccine was very protective, so a hundred percent protective against symptomatic disease in teenagers."

Though some are hesitant to sign their children up for a vaccination, experts say making the shot available to younger ages allows for an easier roadmap to defeating the virus.

"It's just so exciting to know that we're extending this vaccine not just down to the teenage level but the preteen level with good safety and efficacy data…" said Poterucha.

Extending the vaccination program to more age groups also means an opportunity for entire families to resume their pre-pandemic lives.

"It's good to bring up that this vaccine is a mechanism of liberation to connecting back with family. Grandparents, loved ones, the social circle," noted Poterucha.


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