UI Health Care pediatrician gives back-to-school advice as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 6:50 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - For thousands of students across Eastern Iowa, summer break is almost over.

University of Iowa Health Care hosted a virtual question and answer session via social media, inviting people to ask questions about how to keep students and families safe during the upcoming school year.

Hao Tran, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at UI Health Care discussed vaccine efficacy, the importance of attending an annual physical, and how to protect high-risk children or their high-risk family members.

“Having household members vaccinated, wearing a mask in public and indoor places, washing hands frequently, these will protect children with underlying health conditions,” Tran said.

Tran also answered questions on when children younger than 12 may be able to get a vaccine. She said Pfizer-BioNTech is expected to release data on safety and efficacy for 5 to 11-year-old children at the end of September.

“If it’s positive, I am sure they will apply for emergency authorization use, and it’s possible that we would have a vaccine available for those children, it’s hopeful, very hopeful, by the end of this year,” Tran said.

Dr. Aaron Scherer is an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa and UI Health Care with expertise in vaccine attitudes and risk communication. He recently worked with the CDC on a study of attitudes among adolescents and adults about the COVID-19 vaccines. He said it shows one of the main concerns for adolescents with the vaccine is safety and efficacy.

“It highlighted how parents and adolescents both felt a sense of unease about the amount of evidence available about the safety of the vaccines for adolescents and so they wanted, they would feel more comfortable having that information,” Scherer said.

Scherer said vaccination rates for routine vaccinations in adolescents have dropped significantly.

“The CDC has said it’s OK, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has actually advocated for, if you take your adolescent to get a COVID shot, also check to see if there are any other routine vaccines that they should get. And it’s totally safe that they should get the COVID vaccine along with those routine vaccines,” says Scherer.

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