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Local expert: Covid-19 vaccines for young children are safe and effective tool

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media

The FDA is giving the green light to Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines for children as young as six months old.

Dr. Jana Shaw is a pediatric infectious disease expert at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. She said the new vaccines are a safe and effective tool to protect children from COVID-19.

"There's this notion that COVID-19 is only serious for the elderly or maybe people with underlying medical conditions, but we do know that even children can get very sick," said Shaw.

Shaw said the challenge researchers have faced is it’s hard to predict which young children will get very sick and experience complications from COVID-19 and which children will have a mild case. She said a large percentage of children who were hospitalized with the virus had no underlying conditions.

The clinical trials for the newest vaccines involved nearly 8,000 children as young as six months old. Shaw said researchers carefully looked at vaccine safety and found the shots were extremely well-tolerated.

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved, and Shaw said when it comes to choosing which one is best for their child, parents should evaluate whether they prefer the two or three-shot regimen.

"Pfizer has essentially no protection after two doses, but with the third dose, you move up to 80% vaccine effectiveness,” said Shaw. “With Moderna, after two doses, you're at about 50%"

Shaw said if parents have questions or concerns, it’s important to speak with their child’s healthcare provider for more information.

“Don’t let the uncertainty that you may have about this vaccine dissuade you from getting your child vaccinated,” said Shaw. “It is the single most effective protection you can offer to your child and your family.”

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.