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FDA approval of COVID-19 booster for kids comes as cases begin to spike for the summer

The FDA approved COVID boosters for children ages 5-11, just in time for summer vacation.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:35 PM MDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 5:27 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - It’s a story that has become too familiar over the last few years: summer vacation is right around the corner, and the state is seeing a rise in COVID cases. However, this year, local experts are saying that we are more prepared.

The FDA announced on Tuesday that they have approved the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for children ages 5-11. This is the third shot for kids, with the first two rolling out last November. Within the next month, the CDC reported a spike in people getting their second doses.

In May, five months later, any kid who got their second shot in December became eligible for their booster shot. This announcement came as schools are beginning to release kids for summer vacations. In addition, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported a spike in COVID cases throughout the state at the start of May, and said they predict this to continue for the first few weeks of summer.

Despite this data, local experts say it is not a cause for concern. Dr. Richard Vu, a local physician, said families should not cancel their plans. In fact, he encourages them to go through with them -- smartly.

“It is important to go out on family vacations, you need to be able to do that,” he said, “but we have to do so in a reasonable way, in a way that protects ourselves.”

The state health department told 11 News that this summer will be all about taking personal responsibility. Dr. Rachel Helihy said there is no one-size-fits-all approach for staying safe, and that everyone needs to be aware of the risk to themselves and those around them.

Dr. Vu said that this newly approved booster is important in being prepared for the increased risk of going out. He added that this is a reminder for everyone to stay up to date on their vaccines.

This advice is echoed by the health department, which says keeping up with trends and shots is the best way to prevent infection. Nonetheless, Vu said he has been seeing fewer people getting their booster shots.

“So, people are less likely to get the booster dose compared to several months ago where the primary series, the first and second doses, it’s more like people were likely to get those,” he said. “However, that third dose will offer even more protection for a longer time compared to not getting the third dose.”

Vu also addressed concerns he has heard about the vaccine. Primarily, he said there are concerns about the shot causing heart problems.

He said myocarditis and pericarditis are primary concerns. These involve inflammation of the heart muscle, or myocardium, and the heart lining -- pericardium -- respectively. The chance of these developing is slightly higher in children, but Vu said the risk is still incredibly low. He added that the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk, and that the risk is even more present in cases of the virus itself.

As families looking to summer vacations, they are no doubt looking to continue their normal lives. Luckily for them, experts are saying this is possible -- so long as everyone is smart about their plans.

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