Doctors, families anticipate COVID-19 vaccine expansion to children 12 and up

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 2:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - More teenagers will soon be able to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as health experts anticipate the Food and Drug Administration to expand emergency use of the shot to children 12 and up.

Experts at the Medical University of South Carolina say it’s a long-awaited change that could be coming in a matter of weeks or potentially days.

“We’ve been anticipating this news for months,” lead pediatric infectious disease physician Dr. Allison Eckard said. “We are so excited to know that it is right around the corner. This is really a game changer for us in terms of getting younger children vaccinated.”

The vaccine is currently approved for anyone 16 and older.

The hospital is working with the Charleston County School District to bring shots to different high schools in the area.

“We feel very confident that it is okay to move forward and start vaccinating this younger age group,” Eckard said. “Our expectation is that when this approval comes, we will come back around and collaborate with Charleston County to start vaccinating this younger age group as well.”

Dr. Robert Olivero, chief medical officer at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, said they will have plenty of Pfizer vaccines in stock to handle the anticipated change.

“We have plenty of vaccines for patients,” Oliverio said. “Now our rate-limiting step is to make sure we have enough labor to take care of all of the shots.”

Mother Amanda Kahalehoe says she and her 13-year-old daughter have been following the Pfizer trials in children.

“Her having the vaccine will bring back some of that normality to her life that she’s really been missing,” Kahalehoe said. “Not knowing those long-term COVID effects is more detrimental to me or more frightening to me than this vaccine.”

Kahalehoe said vaccines have been critical for her family as her husband has a high-risk, pre-existing lung condition.

“She is really concerned with how she is out with her friends and in school because she’s afraid to bring something home to her father,” Kahalehoe said. “Most importantly, he’s vaccinated, I’m vaccinated but we want to also have that added layer of protection for our kids as well.”

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