Here’s how pediatricians could play a crucial role in getting parents vaccinated

According to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12-15 as early as next week.

On Tuesday, health workers in Cincinnati said they hope a safe expansion of the vaccine for children can also attract adults who are hesitant about the injection and have a chance to reconsider.

The logic is simple, said Dr. Mary Carol Burkhardt: Pediatricians like her develop closer relationships with their patients and patients’ families than many other doctors. Insurance from a trusted pediatrician that the vaccine is safe can mean more to a parent than the same insurance from that parent’s primary care physician.

“I think if you ask most pediatricians, we will only recommend what we are going to do for our own children, and think this may give us the opportunity to build more trust in our families,” said Burkhardt. “And hopefully they recognize that we are doing what we think is in the best interest of their child.”

Her work also focuses more on questions and answers, she said; she spends more time talking to the patients’ families than any other doctor would. And she has a lot of experience discussing vaccines with curious or hesitant parents.

“We are very used to talking about vaccines and feel very comfortable talking about vaccines, especially with families who have questions or just want to know all the right information,” she said.

Keara Heard, a mother of three, has only one child left who is not yet eligible for vaccination under the current FDA age bracket of 16 and older. Her other two have been vaccinated, and so is she.

“As a family, we did a joint research to find out if this would be a good decision for the whole family,” she said Tuesday.

That was it, the Heards decided. Other members of their extended family had already caught COVID-19 and some had died. With that in mind, Keara and her kids wanted the picture.

She hopes her youngest child will be able to have it soon.

“I just want us to all be healthy and get back to a normal way of life,” she said. “(We want to) be part of the solution instead of the problem.”

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