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Olmsted County health experts weigh in on Pfizer announcement

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Pfizer and Biontech says its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11. The announcement came Monday.

"We are certainly on the right pathway of being days, to weeks to vaccinating our five to 11-year-olds," Mayo Clinic Children's Center pediatrician and vaccine researcher Dr. Robert Jacobson said.

It's the first report from any COVID vaccine trial in younger children. Trial participants were given one-third of the adult Pfizer vaccine dose, and results were hopeful.

"They achieved the immunity similar in antibodies measured in what adults got with three times the dose," Jacobson continued. "So, this is great news."

Great news, that public health officials are ready, and already planning for.

"As soon as it is approved, we will be ready to roll," Olmsted County Disease Prevention and Control Public Health Nurse Leah Espinda-Brant said.

Espinda-Brant is already working with community partners on how the vaccine would be best implemented.

"We would like to have continued conversations about what would be the best way for parents of those children between the ages of five and 11 to get vaccinated," she said. "Is it in a community setting? Is it in a primary health care setting?"

In the meantime, both health experts encourage patients, and parents of patients, to have conversations with their health care provider about any concerns they may have.

"Protecting children, five to 11 years of age, and those younger than five, depends on more than just getting the vaccine in a few weeks," Jacobson said. "...I just stress those who can, get the vaccine now."

"It's going to take a multi-layer approach to end this pandemic," Espinda-Brant said, echoing his sentiments.

According to a press release from Pfizer, clinic results of children under the age of five are expected as soon as later this year.

Once the Food and Drug Administration has given the Pfizer vaccine Emergency Use Authorization, it's submitted to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The ACIP will then need to give the nod of approval, which will make it publicly available to eligible children.

Beret Leone

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