Dr. Fauci Says He Would Take This COVID Precaution "In a Second"
The top health official said it wasn't worth it to "take a chance" by avoiding this one thing.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has done everything from donning face masks to limiting crowds in indoor spaces to help protect themselves and others from the spread of the virus. However, the release of highly effective vaccines in late 2020 acted as a significant turning point, finally providing people with a new level of defense against the disease. Now, as federal regulators are moving towards a likely policy change, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief medical adviser to the White House, is urging the public to consider another COVID precaution once it becomes available.
During an interview with Axios, Fauci said that parents should vaccinate their younger children if they eventually become eligible to receive the shots. The top health official admitted that if his adult children were still under the age of 12, "I sure as hell wouldn't want them to get COVID-19. I would vaccinate them in a second."
"Even though the chances of [a child] getting sick and seriously ill are small—why do you want to take a chance of that with your child, when you can essentially protect the child by an intervention that is proven to be both highly effective and very safe?" Fauci asked. He added that children's vaccinations "would be an important step in the right direction of controlling the COVID-19 outbreak in this country."
Fauci's statements come just days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorsed an emergency use authorization of a lower dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 years old. Data from a clinical trial found that the vaccine was safe and 90.7 percent effective against the virus for children in the age group. The move signaled it was more likely that the FDA would authorize the vaccine in younger children before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would make its recommendations the following week.
The top health official then discussed how he hoped the vaccines could be administered to younger recipients if they received approval. "I'd like to see the rollout make it as convenient as possible for parents to get their children vaccinated," Fauci told Axios, saying he would like to make it available at pharmacies, pediatricians' offices, children's hospitals, and community centers. He also admitted that parents would "understandably" be reluctant to vaccinate their children and would have questions, adding that "I would reach out and try to explain to parents … why their children should be vaccinated" as part of the process.
Other experts have weighed in on the idea of younger people being vaccinated, with some explaining that not all kids were at as low risk from the virus as many believed. "We saw the highest hospitalization rates in the five-to-11-year age group in September, during the Delta wave," Fiona Havers, MD, a viral disease specialist at the CDC, told the FDA panel leading up to their affirming vote. "There's clearly a lot of susceptible children still out there that are vulnerable to severe disease."
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Amanda Cohn, MD, a top CDC vaccine official, told the FDA panel that COVID-19 is now a "vaccine-preventable disease" and cited it as "the eighth-highest killer of kids in this age group over the past year." She then added: "Use of this vaccine will prevent deaths, will prevent ICU admissions, and will prevent significant long-term adverse outcomes in children."