Milwaukee-area parents, health officials excited for vaccine eligibility for younger children

Posted at 5:47 PM, Apr 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 23:25:53-04

MILWAUKEE — With the recent spike in positive COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, especially among children, health officials are praising a push from Pfizer to get more kids vaccinated.

"This is very exciting news. It gives us another opportunity to start to make a difference in getting closer to ending the pandemic," said Mike Gutzeit, Chief Medical Officer for Children's Wisconsin.

Younger kids may soon qualify to get the COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer announced Friday that it filed a request with the Food and Drug Administration to expand vaccine eligibility to kids between the ages of 12 and 15.

"While children haven't been as severely affected by COVID as adults have, it still is concerning that it can cause an illness in kids," said Gutzeit.

Milwaukee County mom and Shorewood School Board president, Paru Shah, says she's looking forward to getting her 12 and 15-year-old daughters vaccinated.

"Given how well it’s been received people 16 and older, I feel pretty good about it moving down to 12 and 15," said Shah.

Health officer for the Greenfield Health Department, Darren Rausch, says he'd also get his younger children vaccinated against COVID-19 if Pfizer's eligibility expansion was approved.

"My 16-year-old, I'm in the process of finding a vaccine for him, and as soon as that vaccine is eligible for his younger brother, I would definitely get him signed up," said Rausch.

Rausch says the increase in COVID-19 cases among kids in Wisconsin has been climbing over the past month, especially now that new variants of the virus are emerging in the state.

"That B117 variant seems to be linked to more cases in kids, more hospitalizations in kids and young adults," said Rausch.

To put the rise in COVID-19 cases among children in Wisconsin into context: Just last week, 96 children between the ages of 0-3 tested positive for the virus, 151 tested positive between the ages of 4-8, 227 tested positive between ages 9-13, and 303 tested positive between the ages of 14 and 17.

"We are not going to reach herd immunity or high levels of community immunity that are going to suppress this pandemic until we vaccinate children," said Rausch.

Pfizer also added that during its Phase 3 clinical trials, results showed the vaccine was safe and 100% effective in preventing infection in kids between 12 and 15 years old.

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