With federal approval for COVID-19 vaccinations for younger school-age children imminent, two Orlando pediatricians Thursday urged parents to vaccinate their children when federal approval comes — and to vaccinate themselves.
“That’s how you express to your children the fact that you care about them, the fact that you love them. This is what responsible parenting and membership in a community is all about,” said Dr. Kenneth Alexander, the pediatrics infectious disease resident at Nemour’s Children’s Health in Orlando.
Alexander and Dr. Adriana Cadilla, a pediatric infectious disease consultant at Nemours, spoke Thursday at Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings‘ biweekly COVID-19 update briefing. They made it clear they harbor no doubts that vaccinating children — or anyone — would be the right thing to do if and when federal approval comes, which they expect.
Their pleas came the day after Pfizer turned over its data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its vaccination trials on children 5-11. Both anticipated those data would lead to federal approval, perhaps within a couple of weeks.
“We’re very hopeful that soon we can extend this vaccination to those ages 5 and up, hopefully, even those younger than that, maybe by winter time, the holiday season,” Cadilla said.
“The vaccine appears to be the best tool we have to get out of this pandemic and to return things to the way they were,” she said.
Cadilla and Alexander, who disclosed he has served as a consultant for Moderna, one of the vaccine makers, urged parents to talk to their pediatricians if they have any questions or doubts.
Alexander made a plea for compassion, for people who have COVID-19, for those who have lost family members and friends and especially for people who are unvaccinated,
He said they are the ones with the burdens of worry and uncertainty, of grief, of loss of family members, and are the ones who remain at high risk of getting sick.
“We all want the same thing. We want this pandemic over. We want it over with our family and friends health. We want to do the right thing for our children. We want to see our businesses up and running. We want our tourists back. And I want to get rid of this damn mask,” said the masked doctor.
“We want to get life back to normal. Unfortunately SARS-CoV-2 had other ideas in July and we saw the emergence of the delta variant. And as Dr. (Raul) Pino (director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County) has just shared with us, the ravages of delta have exceeded anything that we have seen so far, not only because it seems to be more infectious among our adults, but because it also has played an important role among our children,” he said.
He noted that vaccinations and herd immunity are among the tools to stop it, but he gave a dark observation on herd immunity.
“It’s very, very expensive: 660,000 Americans couldn’t wait for herd immunity and their families wished they had a vaccine,” Alexander said of the COVID-19 death toll in the United States. “And in Orange County, 2,000 of our friends and neighbors didn’t get vaccinated and couldn’t make it. So vaccination is still the best tool we have because no one has to die to get immunity.”