St. Luke’s is gearing up to administer the first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine to children, ages 5-11 years, later this week, soon after the CDC approves it for emergency use authorization, which is expected on or before Nov. 3. The FDA approved it last week.
In anticipation of this historic immunization milestone, St. Luke’s Chair of Pediatrics Jennifer Janco, MD, offers this information, perspective and encouragement to parents of appropriately aged youngsters: “Vaccine eligibility for this younger age group will allow us to protect even more children. I, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, fully support this recommendation.”
“Separate phase-3 clinical trials completed in this age group showed the vaccine to be safe and comparable in effectiveness to the vaccine for older recipients in previous trials,” Dr. Janco says. “With the Delta variant infecting young children with COVID in unprecedented numbers in recent weeks, vaccinating our children is a critical step in protecting them from the disease and its complications, and also in helping our children continue to participate in school and sports.”
Nine-year-old August Mascitti is eager and hopeful to get his COVID vaccination this week. “I want bragging rights for being the first,” quips the Saucon Valley Elementary School student.
But there’s more to his motivation. He will turn 10 next week and, being fully vaccinated with the two-dose series means he can eventually celebrate his birthday in person with his friends, most of whom want to get the shot, he thinks.
His Mom, Kara Mascitti, MD, is all too familiar with COVID, having helped to form St. Luke’s internal protocols and to lead the network’s internal communications through the pandemic. As St. Luke’s Medical Director, Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Prevention, and president of the network’s medical staff, Dr. Mascitti has been following the studies on the vaccine for over a year.
“It’s an exciting moment for all parents, kids and healthcare providers,” Mascitti said. “This vaccine is safe and effective. It’s the next step to getting back to normal.”
Mascitti said that August will be the last person in the family to get the protection, which means her aging parents will be able to spend more time with their grandson without risking infection. And, she’s proud of August and thinks he’ll set an example for his friends by stepping forward for the shot.
“He’ll be a good role model,” Mascitti said.