BILLINGS – As Pfizer seeks emergency authorization for its two-dose COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to five years, hesitancy over the vaccine for children remains.
However, a Billings Clinic pediatrician says she’s encouraging her patients to get the vaccine once it's finally approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Absolutely. It's very safe and so I would recommend it,” said Dr. Kathryn Lysinger.
The reality of the Omicron variant on children is setting in as some 3.5 million cases among children nationwide soared in the last month alone.
“If you look at hospitalizations for COVID, we are seeing that the under-fives tend to have the highest hospitalization rates,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor at Stanford University.
Lysinger says she understands a hesitancy among parents when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“They’re going to be even more cautious with kids,” she said. “We want to take extra precautions with our kids.”
However, she says the vaccine is safe and there’s evidence it protects.
Pfizer’s two-dose regimen for young children could become available within days. The drugmaker found it safe and produced an immune response.
But it’s still testing a three-dose regimen.
However – will parents opt in? According to new numbers, just 27 percent of children ages 5 to 11 nationwide have received at least one shot of the vaccine so far.
This comes as the Omicron variant has upended families impacted by the sickness, leading to staffing shortages. People are feeling the impacts of the Omicron variant in daycares, preschools and the workplace.
Lysinger believes the vaccination could get kids back to school and parents back to work.
“It’s shutting down daycares, and then that trickles down (so) the parents can't work," she said.
She says for months, people believe that children were invulnerable to COVID-19 when the first variants arrived. She added that medical experts have learned that's a misconception.
“Definitely there was this perception early on the kids didn't get COVID or they weren't spreading it and we have found certainly (its) spreading through daycares,” she said.
Ultimately she encourages parents to talk to their pediatrician to know for sure if the vaccine is right for their child.