Dr Rai talks kids and COVID and vaccine rollout for ages 12-15

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 7:40 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Children ages 12-15 may soon be able to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“And it’s a really important age group as we start to look at where COVID is spreading, who’s getting infected, how it’s being spread,” says Dr. Ashok Rai, President & CEO, Prevea Health.

Dr. Rai joins us Wednesdays on Action 2 News This Morning.

Previous Dr. Rai segments: https://www.wbay.com/health/drrai/

PFIZER NEXT PHASE

“We’re hoping to hear that news probably this week or next week that groups ages 12-15 will now be able to get vaccinated. And it’s a really important age group as we start to look at where COVID is spreading, who’s getting infected, how it’s being spread. We see a really big jump in that adolescent population for a lot of reasons. Schools are back in session, elderly people and older people are vaccinated, so the virus needs to find a home. It’s finding it in adolescents. So it’s really important to get this next age group vaccinated as fast and as quick as we can. So 12-15 happening in a week, and we’ll have plans rolling out on how that’s going to happen.

“So I think what Pfizer’s told us that 2-11 crowd will probably happen by September.”

KIDS AND COVID

“It’s actually one of the fastest growing number of cases in the country are in that adolescent population. It’s very concerning. I think a lot of people have the perception that COVID’s very mild in children. And it is. The death rates are significantly lower. I was reading the infectious disease physician that represents the American Academy of Pediatrics noted something that was kind of shocking. Despite COVID not being as serious in kids, this year it’s still one of the top 10 reasons for cause of death in children. Although maybe not as much death as we see in adults, it still can be significantly bad for children. It not only can cause death, but some of the long-term effects we see we don’t want our children to have. So it’s important to keep them safe and get them vaccinated when they’re eligible.”

KIDS AND IMMUNITY

What do you tell parents who want their child to get COVID-19 and “get it over with”?

“It’s a really bad frame of mind for a lot of reasons. Number one, why would you want to expose your child a disease that could kill them or cause long-term side effects such as those long haul symptoms? Affect their heart. There are a lot of bad things when COVID infects a child that could happen. I never would never want to put my own children--I couldn’t understand why anybody would put their children at risk.

“Number two, we’ve seen some evidence lately, especially comparing natural immunity--getting COVID and the immunity from there--versus the vaccine immunity, obviously the vaccine immunity is safer because you didn’t get COVID, but also could possibly last a little longer and be a better type of immunity against all the different strains that we’re seeing.”

EMERGENCY USE APPROVAL AND VACCINE

Some people don’t believe the vaccines are safe.

“The EUA, and we tried to explain this early on, but understand that these vaccines, all three of them, went through the same number of clinical trials that we would expect any vaccine to go through and had, actually, pretty significant enrollments. The FDA’s actually considered this EUA-plus, whatever that definition is. But I understand that just the word emergency use causes some concern. One of the people on the committee is a well-know, published in vaccines physician. He stated, and pointed this out, in the history of vaccines long-term side effects have always shown up in the first 60 days. Now we are almost six months, if you think of September being the first vaccinations, almost six months from tens of millions of shots being given--especially Moderna and Pfizer--with no long-term issues being shown. It’s very safe. So safe and so well proven, that Pfizer’s actually going to the FDA and say, let’s get rid of that EUA term in front of us.

“For those concerned about the EUA methodology, it went through the all the same safety things that you need to go through to get approved normally.”

EXPANDING VACCINATIONS

“I think we’re really moving to get that needle to the arm as quick as possible. That’s really important. A lot of people are saying there’s this big anti-vax movement that’s preventing that. If you look at the 50 percent or 60 percent not to be vaccinated, a very small portion of them is what I’d say anti-vaxxers. Many just have questions and we need to do a better job of answering those questions and getting the vaccine to them. The anti-vax movement is very small. It’s propagated by people that aren’t even in this country that are trying to somewhat destabilize our own health care system by keeping COVID around. That’s been shown here in the last few weeks. We have to understand that’s a very small portion. The people not being vaccinated right now are people we should be talking to, educating and making sure we make it really easy for them to get the vaccine.”

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