Health expert: Herd immunity difficult without vaccinating kids against COVID – KRGV

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With COVID-19 vaccines now available to people as young as 16 and several pharmaceutical companies currently doing clinical trials in young children, a local doctor said herd immunity may not happen in the Rio Grande Valley unless younger people are vaccinated.

“The Rio Grande Valley has a population of around 1.5 million people, and growing,” UTRGV School of Medicine Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Dobbs said. “And it’s my understanding that about a third of that population is under the age of 18.”

Dr. Dobbs said that demographic is important to getting control of COVID-19 in the Valley.

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“Since the vaccine is only authorized for people age 16 and older, you could reasonably argue that we won’t have a chance of really reaching herd immunity until we are authorized to give the vaccine to people under the age of 16,” Dr. Dobbs said.

Dr. Dobbs said at least one of the vaccines is up for review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in those aged 12 to 15.

Pfizer and Moderna were already testing their vaccines in kids in that age group. Pfizer  said the result of their tests showed their vaccine works very well at preventing COVID for that age group. 

Both companies also announced clinical trials in children between the ages of six months to 11 years are underway with the goal of achieving what’s now become a household term.

“We don’t exactly what percent vaccinated herd immunity really means, but you’ll hear numbers anywhere from 70% to 90% of people actually being immune before we can say that the virus is truly under control,” Dr. Dobbs said.

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