The debate continues over whether there is an urgent need to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for children younger than 12 years old. Our Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi joins us now to explain what’s fueling the spike.
Question: Dr. Nandi, are school sports continuing to drive up our numbers, or is it something else?
Dr. Nandi: Well, the vaccine advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are looking at several factors as they discuss whether it is necessary to vaccinate kids as young as 6-months-old.
Some of the experts say there is no need to rush authorization of a children’s vaccine because kids are at such a low risk for severe illness from the virus. Plus, they feel more studies are needed on vaccine safety in younger children.
However, other members of the group say a vaccine is needed in case there is a resurgence of the virus in the fall and winter when children return to school.
Meanwhile, a top FDA advisor says there is no question in his mind that children need to be vaccinated. Dr. Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia says kids can become seriously ill, and 300 children have died from COVID-19.
He also points to the more contagious variants, which mean more of our population, including children, will need to be immunized for many years to come.
Question: And speaking of vaccinations, Dr. Fauci says there is yet another huge reason for people to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Nandi, what is his concern right now?
Dr. Nandi: Dr. Fauci has been closely watching the spread of the coronavirus variants. Earlier this week, I told you about the rapid rise in the number of people in Britain contracting the Delta variant. This variant, which originated in India, is 40-percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that was first detected in Britain.
Here in the U.S, the Delta variant accounts for more than 6-percent of the sequenced viruses. So, Dr. Fauci is urging people to get vaccinated in order to prevent it from becoming dominant here.
The Delta variant appears to carry a higher risk of severe illness and hospitalization than the Alpha variant. While the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines offer protection, you must take the two doses. One dose only offers 33-percent effectiveness against the symptoms of the Delta variant.
So, again, another compelling reason to get vaccinated. Please, protect yourself and protect others.