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Answering parents' concerns about vaccines approved for ages 5-11

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Carolyn Kaster
/
AP
The U.S. entered a new phase Wednesday in its COVID-19 vaccination campaign, with shots now available to millions of elementary-age children in what health officials hailed as a major breakthrough.

The CDC is now recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the younger age group so we asked a pediatrician what should parents know before their kids get the shot.

Dr. Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician based in Overland Park, Kansas, who encourages parents with eligible children to get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

"The bottom line is, this vaccine is safe, this vaccine is effective, and this vaccine is one that I have already scheduled my 11 year-old son to receive as soon as possible." Dr. Burgert explains.

The immune systems of children are generally more effective at preventing disease than the immune systems of postpubescent people. As a result, the doses approved for those aged 5 to 11 are substantially smaller than those taken by adults: just 10 micrograms as opposed to 30 micrograms.

Dr. Burgert answers callers questions as misinformation about the vaccine's efficacy among children is a hurdle that pediatricians are constantly fighting to overcome.

"Our strategy is to beat down the lies, and to tell what we know that the science is showing us," Dr. Burgert says. "There is more data here that we are getting every single day. This body of research is wide and incredibly deep. When you take surface level interpretations or non-expert opinion, its easy to get misled."

Pharmacies across the metro area have begun administering vaccines to this newly eligible group.

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
As Up To Date’s associate producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.