Right now, the cutoff is age 16 for the vaccine, while research continues. Pfizer is also doing a different study for kids 5-11 and Moderna has clinical trials underway for similar age groups. Any of them would require FDA approval for widespread vaccinations. An application from Pfizer is expected soon.
Oishei Children’s Hospital infections specialist Dr. Karl Yu said adolescents are hospitalized there with bad cases of COVID.
"Of the ones who do get admitted, they are as sick. Many of them need oxygen. Many of them need to be intubated. The ones who get this MIS-C illness, it gets really complicated, in which we have multiple sub-specialties treating the patient at the same time because we are putting out multiple fires in multiple different burners, if you will, for that one kid," Yu said.
Yu said Oishei has had 5-10 pediatric COVID patients at any one time and that total holds steady even as vaccinations appear to be easing adult cases of the virus. He would recommend the vaccine for some young people.
"Basically, these trials were designed looking at regular children, healthy children between the ages of 12 and 15 and seeing if they respond and seeing if the vaccine works. I have no qualms in recommending a vaccine, once there is data suggesting that the vaccine is efficacious and once it’s sure that the vaccine is safe," he said. "I certainly will have patients in which I would not recommend the vaccine because they have an immune system problem or they have a malignancy and vaccine might be likely to work for many of these patients. It’s going to be a little bit of an individualized decision."
Erie County Health Department statistics show a continuing rise in COVID cases among young people.