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Greenville pediatrician prepares sons for COVID-19 vaccinations

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 5:02 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Late Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Pfizer’s lower-dosage COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.

Dr. Erin Wooten, a pediatrician at Children’s Health Services in Greenville, has already made the arrangements for her sons, ages 8 and 11, to be vaccinated.

“That goes a long way if you know that your own people that you trust or your own pediatrician is getting their own children vaccinated. That makes you feel a little bit better as a parent,” Wooten says.

Wooten has a unique perspective as a mother, but also as an expert in pediatrics.

“I wouldn’t ask parents to do anything that I wouldn’t be willing to have my own kids do. And I definitely think the benefit outweighs the risk.”

Dr. Erin Wooten, Children’s Health Services pediatrician

Many parents hear that phrase and wonder what it means for a vaccine’s benefits to outweigh its risks. What risks are there with Pfizer’s vaccine?

Wooten explains that all vaccines and medications come with medical risks. These can include anything from side effects to severe allergic reactions.

“Looking at all of the data that’s been out there, the benefit of preventing COVID outweighs any risk from that vaccine,” Wooten says. “And luckily, there’s been really few risks. We get almost more side effects from the other childhood vaccines than from the COVID vaccine in this age group.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is also eager to roll out the shots to young children.

State health director Dr. Elizabeth Tilson says that this time around, supply will not be an issue for providers.

“It will be in all 100 North Carolina counties,” Tilson tells WITN. “All local health departments will be getting the vaccine.”

Tilson anticipates that the first week’s supply of doses will be enough to vaccinate 50 percent of the state’s residents aged 5-11.

One-quarter of the requested doses will be delivered to primary care practices. Tilson says these are often the most trusted medical professionals for families in the state.

“By the end of the week... should have the vaccine in about 800 different sites across the state.”

Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, NCDHHS state health director and chief medical officer

Per the CDC’s recommendation, Wooten says she is choosing to vaccinate her eligible sons for their overall health and well-being, but also because it takes them a step closer to normalcy.

“I know, according to the CDC, if my kids are vaccinated and they get exposed, they don’t necessarily have to stay out of school; they don’t have to quarantine,” Wooten says. “They can get back into more normal activities.”

As families across Eastern Carolina prepare their holiday travel plans, many of which include visiting high-risk individuals like grandparents or elderly friends, vaccinated children will be better protected from passing or receiving COVID-19.

“So, now having my boys vaccinated, it’s just kind of a relief that I’m doing everything I can,” Wooten says.

The kid-sized dose of Pfizer’s vaccine is one-third of the dosage for adults and teens. Children will get two shots, each three weeks apart.

The shot was tested through a clinical trial of more than 3,000 children ages five to 11 of varying ethnicities. The clinical trials showed over 90 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic infection of COVID-19.

With no severe side effects or safety concerns reported, the vaccine has been deemed safe and effective.

Parents can make appointments for their children to receive doses at no cost to the family.

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