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Vaccines for children ages 5-11 are being authorized - what this means for Quaker Valley

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

By: Mira Hennon

The White House announced on Oct. 20, 2021 that a plan to vaccinate children ages five to 11 has been formed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet with other federal officials to approve the distribution of the vaccine in the first week of November.

Quaker Valley School District in Allegheny County, PA has three out of four schools that accommodate children in the age range these vaccines would be distributed to. As of Sunday, according to the Quaker Valley School District COVID-19 tracker, Edgeworth Elementary School has had the most resolved cases this year. Children at Edgeworth are in grades K-5, placing them in the lowest category for COVID-19 risk.

Molly Howard, an Edgeworth parent of three, plans to vaccinate her two eligible children as soon as she can. Howard hopes that children being vaccinated will offer a greater degree of protection in the community. She also values having her children attend a school with good safety precautions. “Every family needs to make the right decision for themselves… the benefits to our family makes it a no-brainer.”

Pediatric hospitalist Laura Panko at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a Moderna vaccine trial patient, as well as her husband and nine-year-old daughter. “I knew it was pretty safe. The thoughts that ran through my head were mostly about how once she’s fully vaccinated, she has a lot of freedom,” Panko says about her daughter being in the trials. She likes to reassure parents and children about the vaccine by talking about her daughter being a part of the trial. As a member of the trial, her daughter receives a higher dose than recommended for her age group.

Panko’s main goal in the hospital after the vaccine is administered is to encourage families to vaccinate themselves and their children, and reassure patients about the safety and effectiveness. “People are scared,” she continued, “We don’t have long-term information and that’s where a lot of people have concerns. [The vaccine] is one of the only tools we have to really protect ourselves against the complications of covid—kids can get sick.” Panko believes this vaccine will be very helpful in schools, and hopefully prevent children worrying about spreading covid and learning virtually.

An anonymous fourth-grade student in Quaker Valley plans to get vaccinated when it is released to his age group. “I miss that you can sit close to your friends,” he says, but also believes the schools should not change the precautions they are enforcing. When asked if he would encourage those around him to get the vaccine, the student strongly agreed.

Last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analyzed and weighed the risks of the Pfizer vaccine going to younger children. According to the New York times, the benefits outweigh the risks, and it is likely the vaccine will be approved for distribution at the meeting in November.

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