Local pediatrician shares why it’s important for younger children to get the COVID vaccine

SPOKANE, Wash.– Spokane health care providers say they are ready to get shots in the arms of younger children as soon as the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for their age group.

That approval could come as soon as this week. The FDA advisory panel is set to meet Tuesday to decide whether to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds.

“I think it would be great to have kids in the above five age range able to get vaccinated before the holidays before we all get together with our loved ones. I think that will really help decrease the risk of spreading COVID during the holidays,” said Dr. Sarah d’Hulst, a pediatrician for MultiCare.

She notes it’s important for the younger generation to get vaccinated with kids back in school full time this year because the risk is different.

“Anyone who’s around youngsters, and school-aged kids knows that they love to hug each other and touch each other and run around and play tag. It is very difficult for them to remain physically distant from each other,” she said.

At 1/3 the adult dose, Pfizer says its trial of more than 22,000 children ages five to 11 showed the vaccine was nearly 91 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease. There were no cases of severe side effects.

RELATED: FDA says Pfizer COVID vaccine looks effective for young kids

The Spokane Regional Health District said last week it be working closely with schools and community-based partnerships to give the shot when it’s time.

Dr. d’Hulst says if Pfizer doesn’t get approved,  she believes a second option will soon be available to the age group.

She encourages parents to not let their guards down while waiting for approval. It’s still best to make sure your kids are masked, washing their hands, and following other public health measures.

RELATED: Curious about the approval of Pfizer’s kids’ vaccine? We talked to a pediatrician.