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Doctor: Vaccinating children essential to beating COVID, as Georgia continues rollout

COVID vaccines are finding arms in Georgia with about 30% of the state's population already having at least one shot. But getting it to kids is the next big hurdle.

ATLANTA — The number of Georgians getting the COVID-19 vaccine continues to climb. 

On Saturday, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reported more than 4.6 million doses have been administered statewide.

“With all Georgians over the age of 16 now eligible for vaccination, we are making significant progress in getting more shots in arms,” Governor Brian Kemp said.

Now, Pfizer is asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children as young as 12-years-old.

“This is a real game-changer,” said Dr. Frita Fisher with Emory University Hospital.

She said vaccinating children is essential to beating the virus.

“If we’re not vaccinating them, then we really are not likely to reach that herd immunity and get to the end of this pandemic,” she said.

Last week, Pfizer and its parent company Bio-N-Tech said its phase three clinical trials showed a 100 percent efficacy rate and that the vaccine is safe for kids 12 to 15, but the study has not been peer-reviewed.

The FDA review process to extend the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children as young as 12 is expected to take several weeks at least.

Pfizer said more than 2,200 children between 12 to 15 participated in their vaccine trial. Dr. Frita said that’s a good sample size and it shows the vaccine works for children.

“What I would say to parents is to look at the evidence, trust the science and, if you want your kids to go back to school, if you want your kids to play sports and interact with others and socialize with others like children should, then getting them vaccinated will get us just that much closer to being able to do so,” she said.