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'We may not have to play roulette with her health' | Mid-South parents & doctors welcome possible COVID vaccine for 5 to 11-year-olds

If the FDA approves vaccine for that age group by end of year, more school children would become eligible. But challenges remain getting more parents convinced.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Monday, parents and pediatricians welcomed a major vaccine development, after news emerged from Pfizer leaders that the company's COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-olds could be one step closer following a clinical trial on that age group.

"It's been a little bit of an anxiety-inducing fall since August," Memphis parent Jordan Peterson said.

Peterson is talking about her five-year-old daughter Eila, who just started kindergarten, and, for now, isn't eligible for a COVID vaccine.

"It sometimes feels like a race towards, you know, getting our kiddo vaccinated versus maybe having to what see type of COVID case she could possibly get," Peterson said.

But Peterson's COVID worries for her daughter could be lessened greatly soon.

Monday, Pfizer leaders announced their clinical trial on five to 11-year-olds showed the vaccine to be safe and effective. FDA approval could now happen by the end of the year.

"It's sort of a nice reassurance to know that she may have this extra layer of protection, and we may not really have to play roulette with her health on an ongoing basis," Peterson said.

"It's not just about keeping our children safe, it's about to getting them back to their normal lives," Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Dr. Sandy Arnold added.

Dr. Arnold said parents need to treat the situation with urgency, should their five to 11-year-olds be eligible soon for vaccination.

Dozens of Mid-South children were treated at Le Bonheur for COVID in recent weeks, including three who did not survive from COVID complications.

"No child should die from a preventable disease. It's not just about deaths, it's about the disruption and the trauma from hospitalization," Dr. Arnold said.

Now that this latest Pfizer trial is out, Mid-South parents balance patience with anticipation.

"I was just excited to see this is being prioritized and there's momentum in this direction," Peterson said.

While Monday brought promising vaccine news nationally, there's also a harsh reality locally.

Last week, we learned just 35% of eligible 12 to 17-year-olds were vaccinated and Le Bonheur doctors worry those numbers won't be much better if five to 11-year-olds become eligible by the end of the year.

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