As vaccine trials with children show promise, the RGV preps for rollout

Local News

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Thousands of adults across the Rio Grande Valley have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

The fight against the evolving coronavirus continues with vaccinations easing some of the stress. The next step is vaccinating children.

“I had children in the hospital with COVID that have gotten to be pretty sick and had to be transferred out to the ICU,” said Dr. Cristel Escalona.

She is the division chief of pediatrics at UTRGV school of medicine and said this year her hospital has seen a dramatic dip in common cases of the flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

“No RSV no flu. One of the things that we are starting to entertain is face masks. Sending kids back with those. If I send my kids back to school it’s going to be with that face mask because how on earth is my hospital empty,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines Respiratory Syncytial Virus as a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. However, in children can be dangerous.

Pfizer is in the phase 3 trial with over 2200 children ages 12-15.

So far, the 2-dose vaccine producing strong immune response.

The Johnson & Johnson trial is still in the early stages. They expanded their phase 2-A trial for children between 12-17 years old.

Dr. Escalona is no stranger to trials.

“I’m a big believer in vaccines as a pediatrician believe it or not a clinical arm is opening up here in the valley for children and I have signed up all three of my children,” she said.

Some school districts are prepping for a return to the classroom this fall.

When vaccines for children are approved. Starr county judge Eloy Vera said the rollout will be aggressive.

“Same format we’ve been doing with adults,” he said.

The county has over 50-percent of its residents with at least the first dose of a vaccine. It’s a trend he hopes to grow.

“Use the schools mainly because that’s where the kids are. We don’t know what’s going to be required if a parent has to be present or we’ll need a waiver from the parent all these things need to be answered once we have guidance from the federal and state government. We will follow them,” he said.

Dr. Escalona said the biggest challenge is vaccine hesitancy. For parents who are hesitant about their children getting the shot, she has one thing to say.

“Talk to your doctor don’t put so much fact and validity to someone you met on Facebook or is crunching on some herbs and they cured themselves of COVID,” she said.

The Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized for people 16 and older.

While Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are for adults 18 & up.

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