Families of children with underlying conditions await approval of COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids

10-year-old Cameron Moskowitz and his family are anxiously awaiting FDA approval for the COVID-19 vaccine for younger children. (Supplied)

As the school year approaches, Minnesota's 12 to 17-year-old populations remain the least vaccinated group in the state.

About half of 12 to 15 year-olds and 58 percent of 16 to 17 year olds have at least one dose, and that's on top of all students under 12 who can't get a vaccine. It's a worry for some parents who are sending their kids back to in-person learning.

"When I get the COVID shot, I want to get it when I’m 10," said Cameron Moskowitz.

At not quite 10 years old, and thus not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, Cameron Moskowitz has cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, and has battled various health issues in his young life. Next week, he and his twin sister will start fourth grade, and Friday his big brother turned 12. However, the family is anxious for the entire family to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We haven’t even gotten back to school yet and two of my kids were exposed in the last couple of weeks and had to quarantine, and stay home, and COVID test, so we’ve already gone through it," explained Cameron's mother Staci.

His dad’s type one diabetes is an added health concern, while mom happens to be a nurse and survived COVID-19 last year.

"I was in bed for two weeks. I slept 18-20 hours a day," she said.

Dr. Gagnon is a pediatrician at Gillette Children's and on the board of the Minnesota chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She’s been following closely indicators that Pfizer will be ready to submit data from the trials involving 5 to 11-year-old kids this month or next month.

"Like the other emergency review authorization review process, that is typically four to six weeks," said Dr. Gagnon. "So that brings us to very late fall, early winter."

In the meantime, she encourages parents to be patient and vigilant with any potential new COVID-19 symptoms.

"I think parents try to manage expectations and planning. There will be disruptions in the workweek, there will be times they need to have their child quarantine because their child was under three feet, as per the Minnesota Department of Health, and there was an exposure in the classroom."

Dr. Gagnon says families should take advantage of more community testing sites returning while at-home test kits are good but not great. Back at the Moskowitz family, they are taking all the precautions and nervousness, day by day.

"Having had them, having had them at 26 weeks, having to go to a room where may lose them because they may not have survived… I don’t want to go there again," Staci said.