If the data pans out on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccinations for children, infection numbers should start to drop among younger patients and "absolutely kids are going to be unmasked" in the nation's schools, and parents should feel safe getting their children vaccinated, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said on Newsmax Monday.
"I have a nine-year-old, and I'm going to vaccinate him as soon as it's authorized by the FDA," Jha said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "I want to see more of the data right now."
Pfizer announced early Monday that its vaccine works for children ages 5-11 and that it's seeking authorization soon. The vaccine is already available for anyone 12 and older, but for younger children, the company tested a much lower dose and said it finds the younger children developed antibody levels that are just as strong as those in teens and young adults.
"What we know is that kids, while they're less likely to get sick than adults, but they still get sick," said Jha. "[There are] about 2,000 kids getting hospitalized every week in this country from COVID."
Meanwhile, he said that he doesn't think all children will get vaccinated and that it will take a while for the plans to roll out.
"I really expect we're seeing infection numbers drop in many places," said Jha. "I think we will get to a point where absolutely kids are gonna be unmasked. We do not want kids masked up forever in schools, and I think the question is when. I think it'll happen sooner rather than later if a large number of kids end up getting vaccinated."
He added that there are already two other countries where children are being vaccinated, and he thinks as the data grows on the Pfizer findings, more countries will join in.
Meanwhile, the FDA has rejected the Biden administration's call for booster shots for most Americans, and Jha said he thinks the agency "largely got it right."
"What they said was look, the high priority should be high-risk people, people over 65," said Jha. "Now the data from Israel's people over 60 so we can debate 60 versus 65, and other high-risk people, people with diabetes and high blood pressure and heart disease. They also said health care workers and other frontline workers who are exposed by higher levels would benefit."
However, he said he wants to wait for more data to determine if others, like healthy young adults, need the third dose of the shot.
"I suspect we'll have it in the next couple of months, and we can make a decision down the road based on what the data shows," he said.
He added that he thinks the Biden administration made its push after looking at data from Israel, where booster shots are being given to everyone over the age of 16.
"We can all agree that what everybody needs to be doing is getting that first shot," said Jha. "You do not want to end up in the hospital. You don't want to don't end up in the ventilator, and that's what we're seeing too often for people who are unvaccinated."
Jha also said that information should be out in a few weeks about whether mixing different brands of COVID-19 vaccine would benefit recipients.
However, he said he's frustrated that more news about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the need for potential boosters hasn't been released, given that 14 million Americans have gotten that one-dose shot.
"We have not given them any advice," he said. "I'd like to see the FDA and CDC come out and give them some advice about what to do."
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Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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