Opinion | Vaccines for Young Kids Are Likely Coming Soon. Here’s Why They Need Them.

By Lee Savio Beers

Dr. Beers is the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Vaccines to protect young children from Covid-19 are likely soon on their way. An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration is meeting on Tuesday to decide whether to recommend that the agency authorize the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for those ages 5 to 11.

Why do we need to vaccinate young children against Covid-19? It’s an understandable question. While many parents have anxiously awaited the opportunity to get their children vaccinated, others are hesitant. There are questions about side effects, as with any drug, especially considering the lower risk of severe disease for children with Covid-19 compared with that of adults.

But just because Covid-19 is sickening and killing fewer children than adults does not mean that children are or have been free from risk.

In the United States, more than six million children have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and more than 23,500 were hospitalized from it. Over 600 children ages 18 and under have died from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s in large part because the coronavirus has spread so widely in the United States. Vaccine uptake among American adults has been lower than desired; combined with the highly contagious Delta variant and a decrease in mitigation measures like mask wearing in many parts of the country, it has taken a toll.

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