Trump surgeon general speaks out on vaccinating kids

FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for emergency use in children aged 5 to 11

Dr. Frita Fisher discusses the benefits of children getting vaccinated compared to long-term side effects from COVID-19.

Dr. Jerome Adams, who served as U.S. surgeon general under former President Trump, said Wednesday that he will be getting his 11-year-old daughter vaccinated against COVID-19 as the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. 

“It’s really just about doing everything we can to protect our children and give them the best possible chance of growing up healthy and strong,” Adams told Fox News. 

Health officials gave final approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot for children ages 5 to 11 on Tuesday, opening up 28 million more Americans to the vaccine. 

Surgeon General of the U.S. Jerome Adams, left, elbow-bumps Emergency Room technician Demetrius Mcalister after Mcalister got the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago, on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. (Youngrae Kim/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool)

Since the pandemic broke out roughly 19 months ago, there have been more than 8,300 coronavirus-related hospitalizations and at least 94 deaths from the virus in the 5-11 age group. 

“The risk is lower to kids than it is to adults, but lower risk does not mean no risk,” Adams said.

“COVID-19 was the number six leading cause of death for children last month. And as parents, we do things every day to protect our kids from risks that are remote, or things that don’t seem like they’re large risks,” he said. “We put our kids in seatbelts, we have them wear bicycle helmets, we put sunscreen on them to protect them from skin cancer 60 years down the road.”

The pediatric version of Pfizer’s vaccine is essentially the same except it only has a third of the dose – 10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms. 

Of the 3,100 children in the Pfizer trial, most of them developed antibodies just as strong as in teens and young adults, with similar or fewer bad reactions such as fevers and sore arms. 

Myocarditis, the most serious side effect associated with the vaccine, is extremely rare but most prevalent in teenage boys and young men. 

  • Image 1 of 2

    Leah Lefkove, 9, covers her face as her dad Dr. Ben Lefkove gives her the first COVID-19 vaccine at the Viral Solutions vaccination and testing site in Decatur, Ga., on the first day COVID-19 vaccinations were available for children from 5 to 12 on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

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    A nurse gives a girl a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lyman High School in Longwood on the day before classes begin for the 2021-22 school year. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The vaccines could also be a welcome relief for children around the country who have seen their education and social lives disrupted by the pandemic. 

“The biggest reason that my own daughter wanted to get vaccinated is because it’s going to decrease the chance that she’s going to have to quarantine and miss school and miss sports,” Adams said. “There’s a real social benefit to kids being vaccinated.”

COVID-19 cases have declined in the United States over the past two months, dropping from a peak of about 164,000 new cases per day in early September to 71,000 new cases on Monday, according to CDC data. 

Still, some officials are concerned that the upcoming winter holidays could cause an uptick in cases as people gather indoors, where it’s easier for coronavirus to be transmitted. 

“The idea that your kid being vaccinated can decrease the chances of them transmitting to a loved family member, I think, is an important reason to get them vaccinated,” Adams said. 

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