Starkville pediatrician explains why COVID-19 vaccine is safe for kids and the best way for them to get back to normal

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – On Friday, Mississippi began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 15.

It’s a step that state health officials say can get them that much closer to a return to normalcy, especially when it comes to going back to school.

However, a recent Department of Health survey of 11,000 Mississippi residents shows that just over half of Mississippians say they’ll have their children get those shots.

“Under every circumstance, under every conceivable scenario, you are a thousand-fold, if not a million-fold better off getting the vaccine than contracting COVID,” said Mississippi Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs.

American Academy of Pediatrics endorses COVID vaccine for 12-15

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32 sites across the state scheduling appointments

— thomas dobbs (@TCBPubHealth) May 14, 2021

Dr. Dobbs was part of the press conference Thursday discussing the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine to the more than 160,000 children between the ages of 12 and 15.

The FDA has declared the Pfizer vaccine safe after testing over 2,000 children in that age group. The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed the shot as well.

“It is safe. It’s very, very safe,” says Dr. Tami Brooks. “In fact, in the studies that were done of over 2,000 children, there were no serious adverse events reported.”

Dr. Brooks has been a pediatrician for over 25 years and nearly all of that time was spent with University of Mississippi Medical Center. She moved to Physicians and Surgeons of Starkville in the summer of 2020.

“(Based on) the 1000s of doses in the studies, we know this is safe and effective,” Dr. Brooks says. “And we’ve followed those children and we don’t see those adverse reactions. In fact, we see less of them than in the adult population.”

Parents can bring their kids to any clinic administering the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Brooks says getting those Pfizer shots is the healthiest option available for children, in more ways than one.

“We’ve seen our mental health crises and visits just skyrocket,” she said. “The vaccine is a very safe and effective pathway to get these kids back to school in their normal environment. ”

And while the vaccine is not currently mandated for the schools, Dr. Brooks says the decision to not have a child vaccinated can affect everyone around them.

“Just as other unvaccinated children may have an impact on other children, or teachers who may be high-risk,” she explained.

But Dr. Brooks is also a parent. And says she is more than happy to answer any questions about the vaccine.

“We’re here to answer the questions that the parents have and to calm their fears,” she says. “I’m a parent. And I have two older sons and I’ve vaccinated them. I’ve always vaccinated them and I feel very safe.”

Dr. Brooks says she expects both the Moderna and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines to also be approved for that 12 to 15 age group in the near future.

All children must be accompanied by a parent to receive their shots.

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