We look at how Pfizer’s vaccine announcement could impact things locally

NEOSHO, Mo. – Pfizer today announced its vaccine is safe and effective for kids ages 5-11, however, it still needs to go through the FDA for authorization for use. We spoke with some local officials on how this announcement could impact us locally.

Nationally, the number of children being hospitalized with COVID continues to climb with the CDC citing the Delta variant as the primary driver. Locally, both Freeman and Mercy are reporting no current pediatric COVID hospitalizations.

While that doesn’t mean there are zero COVID cases among local children, it does seem to show, at least for now, local kids aren’t being hit as hard. Newton County Health Department Administrator Larry Bergner says numbers at Newton County Schools are low now, but that could cause a problem later. “Currently in our schools in Newton County, we have, in the last week as of Friday, we had 14 active cases in our school system and 12 of those were within our largest school district, so, you’re right, the vaccine coming on board will be a help, but, there could be some hesitancy if our children don’t seem to be affected as much as maybe some other areas.”

Bergner says those numbers could always change as the school year progresses and parents need to stay on top of things. “It’s certainly important for parents to stay informed and look at the data, look at the information, talk to your local health care provider, you should have all the tools available to make the best decision for your family and in this case your child.”

Neosho Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Cummins agrees with Bergner. “It’s just another layer of mitigation that will be afforded to parents and parents can make a decision whether it’s right for their child or not.”

Cummins says right now, they’re not anticipating any changes to current COVID policies in the district. “Our goal is just to provide information and make sure parents and students are aware of the opportunities that are available, so if it gets approved late October, early November, it’s certainly something that we’ll be happy to look at, see if it changes anything about our policies.”

We reached out to the Joplin School District who says they too are not currently anticipating any changes to COVID policies should Pfizer get FDA authorization for the vaccine.

Related story: Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine works in kids ages 5 to 11