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Ochsner Health officials discuss new Pfizer vaccine approval for children


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — After the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization on Monday, the Louisiana Department of Health approved children ages 12-15 to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“In this age group, the studies show that actually, the vaccine was 100 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 and completely safe,” said Dr. William Lennarz, System Chair of Pediatrics at Ochsner Health.

This is a stronger result than vaccine studies in adults.

“The antibody levels in the children were much higher also than what we’re seeing in adults,” said Dr. Julia Garcia-Diaz, Director of Clinical Infectious Diseases Research and Infectious Disease Specialist at Ochsner Health.

Even with perfect efficiency, some parents remain hesitant.

“We are certainly cognizant and sympathetic to the vaccine hesitancy and so we’ve tried to target our messaging to educational, the why,” said Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, System Medical Director of Hospital Quality and Infectious Disease Specialist at Ochsner Health.

“So we would suggest to parents who have not taken the vaccine to talk to their pediatrician about the benefits in their child.”

“The good news about the vaccine in 12-18-year-olds also is that it’s endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention.

Health officials say now is the time to get the vaccine to mitigate mutations of the virus.

“One of the reasons we’re concerned about this among others, is the variant strains that we’re starting to see,” Baumgarten said. “Vaccination is still the best way to prevent these strains from circulating and from changing.”

It’s an opportunity to return to normalcy, especially in schools.

“This is an age group that has been profoundly affected through education impacts, social impacts,” said Dr. William Lennarz, System Chair of Pediatrics.

“We’re excited about this age group being added, but we want everyone in Louisiana and the United States to get this vaccine, as well,” said Baumgarten. “So that’s still our message.”

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