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Idaho parents grapple with decision to vaccinate children ahead of Pfizer emergency use authorization

"Would you rather get the disease or get the vaccine? And in this case, it's pretty darn clear the vaccine is the safe way to go," a St. Luke's pediatrician said.

BOISE, Idaho — The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to grant Pfizer emergency use authorization to administer its COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 through 15 sometime next week. 

While some Idaho parents are counting down the days until they can get their children vaccinated, others are wanting more data before making a decision.

In the United States, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for people between the ages of 16-17. 

Last month, however, Pfizer requested FDA clearance to allow the use of the COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 12 years old. An official decision could come as early as the beginning of next week.

Some Idaho parents are anxiously awaiting to get their younger children vaccinated, while others are exercising caution.

Janet Kravetz, a mother of two boys, ages six and 12, said her 12-year-old son is fully prepared to get vaccinated.

"My son brought it up to me and said he saw the article and said he wants to make sure he gets one," Kravetz said. "He says he wants to participate."

Kravetz is fully vaccinated and even though she fully supports her son getting vaccinated as well, she admits that they won't be the first in line once it becomes available for him. For the Pfizer vaccine, medical experts it could become available as early as next week. 

"I'm all about it but there is that hesitancy and I think it's just an overload of information even though I don't believe it will harm anybody and I don't believe it's going to harm him, I still don't want to be the guinea pig and I think that's kind of human nature," Kravetz said. 

Andy Diehl has a 17-year-old daughter who has had her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, she will get her second dose today. Something Diehl is fully supportive of, but he acknowledges why others might not be. 

"I can understand the hesitancy from the standpoint of how quickly it rolled out but I wasn't concerned with that just going with the idea of we have this many people that have been vaccinated, it wouldn't be in anyone's best interest to put out a product that would kill off or make sick, multiple of their customers," Diehl said 

"She's 17, has a driver's license and a boyfriend, they go do things with people and I can control what she does but I can at least give as much protection as I can before the mask comes off."

Dr. Alicia Lachiondo is a General Pediatrician and Associate Medical Director for General Pediatrics for St. Luke's Health System and acknowledges that many parents have questions and uncertainties about vaccinating their children.

"This will have been tested on tens of thousands, if not more, kids, and of course we know have data for 100 plus million people," Lachiondo said. "The risk of your child getting COVID and the side effects, the long-term effects of that are so much higher than the vaccine."

Lachiondo highlighted that the state continues to see an increased presence of COVID-19 variants, some commonly carried in children. She urged parents to consider vaccinating their children ahead of the new school year, and summer activities. 

"Would you rather get the disease or get the vaccine? And in this case, it's pretty darn clear the vaccine is the safe way to go," Lachiondo said 

Lachiondo noted that when appointments become available for some children in certain age groups, it will be "vaccine season." Parents are advised to plan ahead of and not schedule any other vaccine appointments two weeks before and after getting a COVID vaccine. 

St. Luke's Health System is not yet scheduling appointments for those ages 12 through 15 until Pfizer receives Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA.

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