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What do local experts say about COVID-19 vaccinations for kids?



AUGUSTA, Ga. – Big news in the nation’s vaccine rollout: The Food and Drug Administration is getting ready to give the all-clear to vaccinate people younger than 16.

The agency says the Pfizer vaccine will soon be authorized for kids 12 to 15 with some eligible for the shot as early as next week.

Now to answer the question all parents are asking: Is it safe?

We spoke with local experts at Augusta University Health. They say they are in the process of reviewing the data. Pfizer says that the kids in their study handled it well. But our hospitals are sorting this out all while trying to manage growing vaccine hesitancy.

Pfizer says its shot is 100 percent effective in the group of about 2,200 children they vaccinated. They say that group of 12 to 15 year old’s handled it well.

“Parents are going to go to their pediatrician and ask their pediatrician their opinion on if their child should receive this vaccine,” said Dr. Joshua Wyche of AU Health.

Dr. Wyche says his team’s at AU will review the data. But he says this vaccine is something to consider if you have teens.

“This new UK variant, as the primary variant in the state of Georgia, is much more easily spread to all,” he said. “Especially to children.”

And as it spreads health officials are fighting to vaccinate.

“It’s not something I expected to drop off that quickly,” he said.

Right before Masters AU Health hit a peak of about 10,000 doses a week.

“At this point, we are down to a thousand or 1,500 doses per week,” he said.

AU Health says their Washington Square site will continue to be their vaccination hub moving forward. But as many still question the vaccine.

“This shouldn’t be the topic that’s not discussed at family dinners or in friendly company,” he said.

They are trying to bring the vaccine to the community through partnering with organizations like Golden Harvest. As is the Charlie Norwood VA.

“Our hope was that we would get to a little bit closer to 60 percent before we had to do the consolidation,” said Jennifer Blanchard, chief of pharmacy at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Blanchard says that they plan to turn their two vaccine clinics into one.

With 43 percent of their veterans vaccinated, there’s still work to do, just elsewhere.

“This allows us to have more opportunity to do community events,” she said.

So what would those events look like?

The Department of Veterans Affairs is partnering with a 2k race in our area. Also they are considering an event during thunder over Evans. Our health officials trying to find creative ways to convince those who are undecided on the vaccine.