Leading pediatricians across the state and the Louisiana Department of State’s Department of Health, Dr. Joseph Kanter, have published a public letter urging parents and caregivers to protect their eligible children from COVID-19 with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. In the letter, pediatricians who care for children across Louisiana say vaccines are the best way for this age group to return to school and summer activities such as camping, and is vital to protecting families .
The letter includes signatories representing the Louisiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine; Tulane University School of Medicine; Ochsner Health; Child Health of Our Lady of the Lake and LSU Health Shreveport.
The FDA authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine for this age group last week and the CDC recommended the use of the vaccine for this age group on May 12th.
As pediatricians, we share your goal of keeping your child healthy and safe. The health and well-being of all Louisiana children is our highest responsibility and priority. We are proud of the many families who have volunteered to participate in the research studies that have brought us safe and effective vaccines to combat COVID-19. Volunteers were offered so that everyone could have the opportunity to protect our children and, by extension, everyone else in our families. This opportunity is already here for teens 12 and older and their families.
The recent FDA authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 12 to 15 and the strong recommendation of the CDC add an essential tool to the proven strategies that have kept our children safe over the past school year. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be safe and provide a strong immune response to the virus, especially in adolescents. It is important to note that it has also been shown to substantially reduce the chance of a virus unknowingly passing on to someone else. Fortunately, the most significant challenges of the 2020-21 school year have been left behind, and the availability of COVID-19 vaccines brings hopes that the “normal” we all seek for our children and families will arrive soon.
Although most children have been spared serious complications, many have become ill with COVID-19 and some have been hospitalized and died. COVID-19 has spread to families, causing fear, interruptions and sacrifices. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has already killed more than 10,000 Louisians, including 7 children. Vaccination of adults and children is necessary to prevent the continued spread of this virus in our communities and the emergence of variants that threaten to prolong this pandemic.
By their social nature, adolescents have proven to be a very effective distributor of COVID-19. The availability of COVID vaccines in children ages 12 to 15 can make the next school year safer and more normal, but only if families and teens choose to get vaccinated.
As summer begins, we strongly encourage parents of children 12 and older to find out where COVID-19 vaccines are in your area and schedule their vaccination as soon as possible. This is especially important for those who will be attending camps, traveling, spending time with friends, working in the summer, and returning to school in August. Vaccination against COVID-19 is important for the health of all our children.
This past year has brought challenges and disruptions to all of our lives, especially for our children. It has been our greatest honor to sail in these unprecedented times with you and your family to ensure the well-being of all children. Just as we sailed together the first terrifying days of this pandemic, we are here to help your children return to the feeling of normalcy. For this reason, we urge all children 12 years of age and older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and catch up with other vaccines that could be expired. If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccines, plan a visit or call your pediatrician to discuss your concerns.
We know, and many Louisianians will agree, that the risk to your child and your family of remaining unvaccinated is too great.
Rachel Chatters, MD, President | Lake Charles
Joseph A. Bocchini Jr., MD, Vice President | Shreveport
Ann Kay Logarbo, MD, At-Large Member | Covington
Bridgett Foreman, MD, First degree doctor Alexandria
Elizabeth Seiter, MD, Member of At-Large | Baton Rouge
Kim Mukerjee, MD, Secretary / Treasurer New Orleans
John A. Vanchiere, MD, PhD, Immediate ex – president Shreveport
Joseph Kanter, MD, MPH, State health officer
Raymond G. Watts, MD, FAAP, Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics
Samir El-Dahr, MD, President of the Department of Pediatrics
William Lennarz, MD, Chair of Pediatrics System
Shaun Kemmerly, MD, Medical director
Maroun Mhanna, MD, MPH, President of the Department of Pediatrics