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Coronavirus vaccines are expected to be approved for younger kids by next week. A Tallahassee doctor says he thinks vaccines are a good choice for most.

A woman with a blonde ponytail and blue medical gloves prepares a vial of vaccine.
Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media
Karri Marshall, an RN Supervisor for University Health Services, preps dosages of the COVID-19. Kids 5 and up and expected to be approved for Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine by next week.

Coronavirus cases throughout Florida are dropping, but doctors say that doesn’t make getting vaccinated any less important—even for kids.

Vaccines are approved for kids 12 and older. Friday afternoon, the Federal Food and Drug Administration okayed Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11. Shots for that vaccine are expected to become available as early as next week following a review from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"You’re going to develop immunity one way or the other—either through the vaccine or through getting the virus itself."
Thomas Truman

Pediatric Critical Care Physician Thomas Truman says he thinks vaccines are a good choice for most people.

“I still strongly believe that everyone is going to be affected by this virus. You’re going to develop immunity one way or the other—either through the vaccine or through getting the virus itself," Truman says. "Everything that we know and learn is there’s a lot more likelihood of severe complications if you get the disease if that’s how you want to get your immunity is by getting the disease then you’re just taking a bigger chance.”

Truman says he believes vaccines are a safer choice for most eligible children even as side effects in some teens are reported.

a head shot of a man with glasses a dark jacket and a red and blue tie.
Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare
Dr. Thomas Truman is a pediatric critical care specialist at TMH.

“Will there be some side effects to the vaccinations? Of course, there always are. But what we do know is that when we do see those side effects, even when we do see myocarditis from the vaccine, it’s very mild and it's very short term and children and young adults get over it very quickly as opposed to the myocarditis that we see with the [multi-system inflammatory syndrome]. That tends to be a lot more severe. So the vaccine just makes entire sense,” Truman says.

Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart. It’s showing up in some boys and young men—especially those who are age 16 to 19 years old after they finish their second round of a coronavirus vaccine. But experts say the risk of that remains low. And Truman says from what he’s seeing, patients are recovering from that side effect fairly quickly. He says side effects tend to be riskier for unvaccinated teens and children who can get multi-system inflammatory syndrome after being infected by the coronavirus.

“Around 2 to 6 weeks after becoming exposed and infected by the coronavirus, the children's immune systems kind of go haywire and they develop this multisystem inflammatory response where their GI tract, their intestines, their lungs, sometimes their kidneys, a lot of times their heart becomes infected and they can actually develop myocarditis and those are the cases that we’ve been treating due to the surge in mid-August," Truman says.

Truman also says doesn’t think counting on herd immunity is a great plan. He estimates it’s likely a long way off.

“A lot of the percentages that we’ve heard about herd immunity when we look at the number of people vaccinated, that just has included the eligible population—the 50, 60 percent numbers that we are hearing around the country," Truman says. "That doesn’t include children and children are part of our herd and so until we approach the 70, 80, 90 percent...my gut tells me we’re not really close to herd immunity yet.”

Experts say anyone with questions about whether a vaccine is right for their child should talk to a doctor.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy covers healthcare and government in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories here.