Health leaders applaud COVID-19 vaccine approval for children
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – State health officials announced Wednesday morning that New Mexico children, ages five to 11, are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
This comes a day after the CDC approved the vaccine for younger children and a week after the FDA gave the green light.
KOB 4’s Brianna Wilson talked to local and national health leaders about what this means for the state.
The New Mexico Department of Health said the recent approval makes 188,000 more New Mexicans eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Shots for children younger than 11 only have a third of the active ingredient compared to shots for adults. Officials said they look forward to the extra protection this will provide.
"I’m certainly very excited about this. And I really think that this is an amazing step forward in our fight against this, this pandemic,” said Dr. John Pederson, Presbyterian Children’s Program medical director.
Pederson said the side effects of the vaccine for younger children are minimal, including arm soreness, body aches and a fever.
"Fortunately, in the clinical trials, there have not been any serious adverse reactions in this population,” he said.
KOB 4 also spoke with Dr. Rosha McCoy from the Association of American Medical Colleges, a partner of the CDC.
She said 250,000 children ages 12 to 17 have done very well with the vaccine so far. Recent trials have shown the Pfizer vaccine is more than 90% effective for five to 11-year-olds.
"And they actually found that the side effect profile was actually a little less for kids than it was, it is, has been in adults. There were really no other long-term complications that in those clinical trials,” said McCoy.
But both local and national health experts said there are risks for long-term side effects if a child contracts COVID-19, among other things.
"There are up to a third of people that develop COVID-19, that, that don’t actually develop antibodies. The antibody production does not seem to be as robust with natural infection, and doesn’t seem to last as long,” said Pederson.
"We’ve had about 94 deaths in kids from COVID-19. That’s, that’s a pretty significant number,” said McCoy.
The state health department said 60,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for younger children are ready to go out to local pharmacies and doctors Wednesday, Nov. 3.
"The true strength from immunizations come in immunizing a population so that we can really protect our community,” said McCoy.
Pederson said child vaccinations will help control the spread of COVID-19 in close-contact environments like schools. He said Presbyterian’s clinics have already requested the special doses for kids and expect to start giving shots within the next week.