Possible COVID-19 vaccine recommendation for kids sparks mixed reactions from Phoenix parents

The Biden administration announced a rollout plan for the COVID-19 vaccine to help children better fight the virus and this announcement spurred mixed reactions from parents and grandparents in the Phoenix area.

"I'm not a fan of it," said grandmother Paula Marinos. "They get vaccinated for enough things and I think they need to build immunity."

Gemma Dedeseo has four children, three of them are under the age of 12. "I can't wait to get my younger kids vaccinated. It'll be great. I won't have to worry as much," she said.

Some parents cite concerns about vaccine safety.

"There's not enough information out right now so I think it's a decision we should be making so right now, it's our decision to not get our children vaccinated," said Alison Cargill, a mother of one with a second on the way.

Others are more concerned about the effects of the virus.

Marianne Gaydos says after losing her mother to COVID-19 last Christmas, she's eager to see younger members of her family vaccinated.

"We owe it to each other. We owe it to our families, especially in light of the coming holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas. We need to take care of each other and we need to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate," Gaydos said.

Phoenix Children's Hospital pediatric infectious disease physician Dr. Wassim Ballan says vaccinations for younger children will be a game-changer.

"We are very excited about this because number one, it will decrease the risk of getting infected and the other, people have to keep in mind, is that's gonna help a lot with absenteeism from school. If you get exposed and you're vaccinated, most likely you won't have to quarantine," Ballan explained.

Since school's started back up, Ballan says they've seen more children being hospitalized. Many had previous conditions, but some were otherwise completely healthy.

Ballan says he's looking forward to better protect vulnerable children.

"The potential authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, which is currently under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), would be another major milestone in our efforts to build on this historic progress and protect even more Americans," read a White House press release.

Adding, "Millions of adolescents ages 12-17 have been safely vaccinated, and we know vaccines work. Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant. The consequences of a pediatric COVID-19 case can be serious and potentially last months."

Read the White House's full statement here.

Health official: Arizona poised to give COVID shots to kids

The state’s top public health official says preparations are underway to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 if the federal government authorizes a lower-dose Pfizer vaccine in early November.

Don Herrington, acting director of the state Department of Health Services, also says parents should have their children vaccinated for COVID-19.

Arizona has over 600,000 children in the 5 to 11 age group, Herington said in a blog post Wednesday. "Arizona stands ready to vaccinate them," he said.

Herrington said pediatric vaccinations will be available in some areas at special vaccination clinics at locations arranged with schools and local health care providers. He also said retail pharmacies and more than 900 providers such as pediatricians and community health clinics will provide vaccinations to children.

He said pediatric vaccine providers will be identified on the state’s vaccination website.

Herrington said children should get the vaccine because there have been cases when otherwise healthy kids get extremely ill from COVID-19.

He also said children are effective spreaders of the disease and that vaccinating children would move Arizona closer to herd immunity.

Arizona has been told by federal officials to expect an initial allocation of 224,700 pediatric doses, and "many more doses" are expected to begin arriving soon once the federal government expands vaccine eligibility, Herrington said.

The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.

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