Dr. Fauci says he doesn't understand parents who have not vaccinated their kids: 'What are you waiting for? Protect your children'
- Dr. Anthony Fauci doesn't think there's any reason to wait to vaccinate 5-11 year olds.
- "There have been clinical trials that are very, very clear to show that the vaccine is highly effective and very safe," Fauci said.
It's been roughly two weeks since pediatric COVID-19 vaccines were authorized and recommended to youngsters ages 5-11 across the US.
Already, approximately 10% of those newly-eligible kids have gotten their first (of two) kid-sized shots, according to the White House.
But surveys suggest that many of the parents of kids in that age group, even some who were eager to get vaccinated themselves, are opting to wait and see, delaying their schoolkids'
Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's not a prudent move.
"What are they waiting for? The infection is here now," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Insider over the phone. "Protect your children."
COVID-19 is now a leading cause of death for kids in the US
Though the coronavirus is typically milder in children than it is in adults, it isn't always.
COVID-19 has become a top 10 leading cause of death for kids in the 5-11 age group during the pandemic. Federal estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 192 children from 5 to 11 have died from COVID-19. Kids can also transmit the illness to their parents and teachers, as they are just as likely as teens and adults to become infected.
So far, there is only one
"The clinical trial shows that it's highly effective in preventing serious disease and infection and kids," Fauci said. "It's 91% effective in preventing symptomatic disease."
During the trial, 16 of the 750 children injected with placebo (fake) shots got COVID-19, while only 3 of the 1,518 who were fully vaccinated did.
Dr. Stanley Plotkin, one of the world's preeminent vaccine experts, told Insider that he "could understand" a parent deciding to wait until the vaccine is fully approved, and more safety data has been compiled by the FDA.
"I wouldn't consider that attitude to be crazy," he said.
But Plotkin (and other public health experts, who are gladly and expeditiously vaccinating their own young children and grandchildren) doesn't think it's a good idea to wait around to vaccinate youngsters during a pandemic, when you live in a community where infections are spreading fast.
"If you postpone that choice, it means that your child remains susceptible and could be infected," Plotkin said. "We can either not vaccinate and let the disease spread and kill whoever's going to be killed and sort of shrug our shoulders and say, 'well, that's too bad.' Or we can try to prevent disease, by vaccinating everyone who is susceptible."
Fauci, too, recognizes that mandating COVID-19 vaccines for all schoolkids will likely require a full FDA approval first, as a kind of final vote of confidence in the vaccine. Still, scientists at the FDA stress that the safety database for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11 is already just as robust as other databases that have supported the full approval of vaccines for other infectious diseases in the same age group.
"Why would any parent want to have their child vulnerable to symptomatic disease when in fact, there have been clinical trials that are very, very clear to show that the vaccine is highly effective and very safe?" Fauci said.
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