Health leaders say vaccinating children will be critical to fighting pandemic as variants spread

Posted at 4:45 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 18:44:58-04

MILWAUKEE — Local health leaders say a new issue has emerged. Children are starting to play a huge role in transmitting new variants of the virus.

"That's where parents I think you have to be really, really diligent because this is spreading among kids," said Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson.

Senator Chris Larson, along with his 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, are now home recovering after recently testing positive for COVID-19.

Larson, who already had his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, says he learned his daughter had come in contact with another child who tested positive for the virus. And now he's warning other parents to stay vigilant.

"Even if the parents are vaccinated, kids can get this and kids are unfortunately spreading this. My family is a clear example of that," said Larson.

That's why health officials say it's going to be crucial for children to get vaccinated.

"If we leave that population unvaccinated, we will have to deal with this virus for quite some time because it will continue to circulate in that group," said Samroz Jakvani, epidemiologist for the Jefferson County Health Department.

Currently, Pfizer is seeking FDA approval to give the vaccine to kids as young as 12 years old. But when it comes to possibly getting doses in the arms of younger children, that could take a bit longer.

"Kids are smaller, and they have different immune systems. So we can't necessarily just extrapolate from what works in adults and immediately do the same thing in kids. We do need to figure out exactly what the right doses as we begin to get into smaller kids," said Doctor Jim Conway, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at UW Health.

"We definitely have to focus on the younger population now that they are shown to be vulnerable to this new strain," said Larson.

According to Senator Larson, his wife had already received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and ended up not testing positive for the virus. He also says he and his children are already starting to feel much better.

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