Pediatricians urge FDA to authorize COVID vaccine for kids under 12 as fast as possible

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the FDA to authorize COVID-19 vaccines for 5 to 11-year-olds as fast as possible amid growing concerns about the delta variant.

Illinois reported 704 new COVID-19 cases for children ages 19 and younger on Tuesday, the largest one-day increase for any age group in over three months.

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With school starting next week in Arlington Heights District 25, parents of students 12 and older were given time today to voluntarily bring their vaccination cards to show the district proof. While some declined, Peter Bartsch had no problem sharing his 13-year-old son's vaccination record.

"There are so many other things to worry about, quite frankly, than my local school district knowing my kids' health records," Bartsch said. "They have half of them anyways."

Like many districts, proof of vaccination here means vaccinated students who are exposed to COVID will not have quarantine.

"It's just way easier for lots of people, because some people can't quarantine, some people don't have good home lives and school is an escape," Bartsch's son added.

As school districts urge students to get vaccinated, pediatric COVID cases nationwide are on the rise. Fortunately, because the Chicago area has higher vaccination rates than other parts of the country, children's hospitals are not yet seeing a big increase in cases.

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"It is not known yet if the delta variant is going to cause more severe illness in children or not, we don't know. The numbers are too low at this time to be able to say that," said Dr. Elaine Rosenfeld, director of pediatric infectious disease at Advocate Children's Hospital.

Although, because the delta variant is more contagious, Dr. Rosenfeld echoed the American Academy of Pediatrics call for the FDA to authorize emergency use of the vaccine for kids ages 5-11 as soon as possible.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks that this is an absolute length of time to be able to look for adverse effects and get emergency use authorization," Rosenfeld added.

The expectation was a vaccine would be ready for younger kids by the beginning of the school year. But, the FDA extended its timeframe when it asked the drug companies to add more kids to the trial so the federal agency could monitor some rare, extreme adverse outcomes.

Doctors said it may be a few more months before younger kids have access to the vaccine.
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