Johnstown pediatrician Dr. Edward Pawlowski says vaccinating adolescents is a good step in protecting the community.
“Getting the vaccine is going to get these kids back to – I don’t want to say ‘back to normal’ – it’s going to get them back to what they really should be doing: having sleepovers and interacting with other children,” Pawlowski said on Friday.
He is a physician with Pediatric Care Specialists in Richland Township.
Although the practice currently does not have the Pfizer vaccine, its staff is compiling a list of eligible patients whose parents request vaccines for their children.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices issued a recommendation that endorsed the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccines and its use in children as young as 12 years old.
The unanimous vote immediately opened eligibility to the younger age group.
Jerry Moschgat, of Mainline Pharmacy, said those age 12 and older can get vaccines at any of its clinics offering the Pfizer vaccine.
Parents have expressed interest in getting their children vaccinated, but Pawlowski said he understands there are concerns because of misinformation on social media and some news reports. Those that believe the vaccine may have been developed too fast should understand that the scope of the pandemic helped researchers have access to an unprecedented number of study participants to test the vaccines.
“People were coming in droves, saying, ‘I want to be your study patient,’ ” Pawlowski said.
Just because younger people have been less likely to get seriously ill or die from the novel coronavirus doesn’t mean the vaccine is not valuable in the age group, he continued.
“We still have to think about small children who have chronic illness,” Pawlowski said. “How are they going to fare if they get this? The protection is actually protecting other people in schools and in their homes.”
The vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in millions who have been injected.
“We have vaccinated our most fragile people,” he said, pointing to the number of senior citizens vaccinated.
“We see drops in coronavirus in that population,” he said.
“This is a safe vaccine.”
When patients age 12 and older come in for exams at Pediatric Care Specialists, their parents will be told the vaccine is available. It will be up to each family to determine if the children receive the shots.
“My kids are going to get it because it’s just the right thing to do,” Pawlowski said. “From my medical expertise, if they’re going to be in the community, I have to protect my children.”
Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5057. Follow him on Twitter @PhotoGriffer57.