Local pediatrician urges parents to get COVID vaccines for kids ages 5-11


AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Now that children ages 5-11 are eligible to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, a local pediatrician is encouraging parents to take advantage.

Dr. Todd Bell, a pediatrician at Texas Tech Physicians, said throughout the pandemic, kids have handled better than older adults in general, but they do still get sick.

“That’s been more of an issue with the Delta variant when it’s come around. It’s very much an equal opportunity infector,” said Dr. Bell. “And so we’ve had kids that have gotten sick. Now the majority of them do just fine. I happen to have currently two patients in the hospital that have COVID.”

He said one of those two pediatric patients had an incidental finding of COVID, but the other had a really significant case, landing them in the hospital.

“I’ve had patients that I admitted last week with COVID,” said Dr. Bell. “The reality is that COVID can affect everybody, and we want to be able to protect our children just like we want to be able to protect our parents and grandparents, and the older folks in our population. So we’re really excited about that.”

After the FDA gave emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine for kids 5-11 and the CDC issued recommendations, Dr. Bell said plenty of parents are ready to get their kids vaccinated.

“Once we got that CDC approval, I started getting phone calls and having people stop by my office. And it was interesting because the people who are best in the know these are oftentimes pediatricians are the ones who are stopping in and saying, ‘Hey, where can I get my kid their vaccine? I don’t want to wait another week. I want to get it tomorrow. Where do I get it at?'” Dr. Bell said.

He continued, “So, I think that’s pretty telling that those folks who are in the best position to know what the data is, are also those folks who are most interested in getting their own children vaccinated.”

Dr. Bell said many parents have voiced concerns about vaccine risks, including myocarditis, and said, “In the general population from the vaccine, there’s a one in 50,000 chance of getting myocarditis from the vaccine. Now, there’s about a one in 10,000 chance of getting myocarditis from COVID itself. So if I get COVID, and I’m worried about inflammation in the heart, I should have gotten the vaccine because there’s a better risk-benefit ratio there.”

He also said older male teenagers and young adult males are at the highest risk for getting myocarditis from the vaccine.

“They’re going to have about a one in 10,000 risk of getting myocarditis from the vaccine. Well, it turns out, they also have about a one in 10,000 risk of getting myocarditis from COVID itself,” said Dr. Bell. “I think that the science is saying that we that the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk, and folks should get the vaccine.”

For those still on the fence, he encourages them to talk to their pediatrician.

“See what they think. Get their information on it, find somebody that you trust and know and who also is an expert on medical issues, and get their opinion on the vaccine,” he continued.

Dr. Bell, who also serves as the Amarillo Public Health Authority, noted Pfizer’s dose for children is a different dose than for teens and adults.

“It’s currently available at the Amarillo Public Health Department and is starting to come online now at different pediatricians’ offices and hopefully in the very near future, we’ll also be able to have it in some pharmacies,” said Dr. Bell. “If folks have questions they can always call the health department at (806) 378-6300.”

According to Dr. Bell, more vaccines mean better protection for everyone.

“The holidays are coming up, now’s the time to get the vaccine in order to be able to do those activities without having the concerns that you might have about, ‘Well, are we going to potentially make grandma or grandpa sick?’ So I would encourage people to get the vaccines from that standpoint,” he said.

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