WEST PALM BEACH, Fla – A Palm Beach County pediatrician said there was “great demand” in his office for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, and he urges parents to vaccinate their children.

Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is now being given in doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and local school district sites to children in the 5 to 11 age group after the FDA and CDC both approved the injections.

“It’s an exciting step for us here as pediatricians to be able to have something in our toolkit to start fighting the pandemic,” said Dr Tommy Schechtman with Pediatric partners.

Schechtman joined WPTV reporter Stephanie Susskind for a live chat on WPTV’s Facebook page on Thursday afternoon to answer questions about the vaccine for children.

WATCH THE DISCUSSION ON VACCINES:

South Florida pediatrician talks about COVID-19 vaccine for children

Schechtman said he sees “a bit of excitement” from parents who can now get their children vaccinated against the deadly virus. To meet this demand, Pediatric Partners is organizing vaccination clinics in two of its offices on November 13 and 14.

“The best opportunity we have to get back to normal for our children, our grandchildren, is to vaccinate,” said Schechtman. “Our best, the best tool is vaccination. This is how we are going to overcome this and beat this pandemic.”

While Schechtman admitted that many parents and guardians are reluctant to give their child a new vaccine, he said clinical trials on around 3,000 children aged 5 to 11 have shown no serious or unwanted side effects.

“The vaccine is safe. The benefits far outweigh any kind of even theoretical risk to the child,” Schechtman said. “We want to give every child, as we do with every vaccine, the best opportunity to succeed and to avoid vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Schechtman said 1.8 million children nationwide between the ages of 5 and 11 have contracted COVID-19, 8,000 have been hospitalized and 94 have tragically died.

While most cases are mild in children, Schechtman said some patients develop long-term effects, including multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can impact a child’s heart. child.

Pair these risks with the mental health toll the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in children, Schechtman said the vaccine is the best way for children to get back to normal during such a volatile and uncertain time.

“This pandemic has had a major impact on children,” said Schechtman. “As a pediatrician, we are seeing a rapid increase in the number of patients presenting to us with mental illness, whether it is anxiety, depression, restlessness, insomnia. And we also know that it had an impact on their education. “

Regarding children under five, Schechtman said clinical trials are currently underway in infants six months and older, and he estimates the vaccine will be available for even younger children in early 2022. .

“What we need to do in order to be able to protect our grandchildren, our toddlers, our infants is to make sure everyone around them is vaccinated. This is the best way to protect them,” he said. Schechtman said. “The future is bright now that we can immunize our children.”

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