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Children ages 12 to 15 could soon be eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Doctors recommend parents should talk with their kids now about what to expect when they get the vaccine.

SEATTLE — Children as young as 12 could start receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week. Pfizer has asked the federal government for emergency use authorization of its vaccine for kids age 12 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people age 16 and older.

Clinical trials show Pfizer’s vaccine is safe and 100% effective for kids ages 12 to 15. The Biden administration said if the vaccine is approved, the government is ready to ship the vaccine to 20,000 pharmacies and pediatricians.

"We, the physicians, are really happy. We at Seattle Children's are really happy," said Dr. Janet Englund, a professor of pediatrics at UW Medicine and pediatric infectious diseases at Seattle Children's. "But so are the families. Families want this vaccine, they really do."

Englund said she has kids asking her when they can get a vaccine.

"So desperately, they want a normal life,” said Englund. “I'm getting kids writing to me that they want to be in the study. I got a letter [Monday] saying I've been in quarantine for 400 days. Please, can you get me a vaccine?"

COVID-19 vaccines for kids mean reducing the risk of infection at school, social gatherings and while playing sports. Englund said it also helps prevent more serious diseases caused by COVID-19.

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"There's a disease called MIS-C, or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, which is very serious and life-threatening in children,” said Englund. “We have seen a lot of it this year, and if I could prevent my child from getting that with a vaccine, I absolutely would.”

The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only vaccine approved for people 16 and older, meaning high school students can get the vaccine. School districts have been holding clinics for students. Seattle Public Schools said it held a clinic for Ingraham High School students, and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city would soon have additional details about plans to get children vaccinated.

On Wednesday, the Puyallup School District will hold a clinic for its students and their parents.

Kids had side effects to the Pfizer vaccine similar to young adults, the company said. The main side effects are pain, fever, chills and fatigue, particularly after the second dose. The study will continue to track participants for two years for more information about long-term protection and safety.

Englund said before a kid gets the vaccine, parents should talk to them about what to expect.

"You get a sore arm, you might be fatigued, you might get a headache, that part will happen, and I don't think we can lie, or we should not be telling tales. But we should be saying this is what you do... and after a day or two, you can go back to doing everything you wanted," said Englund.

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