No vaccine for younger kids: WH advisor & Children’s Hospital doctor discuss that & masks concerns

The CDC still says masks are necessary on airplanes and other public transportation
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 7:44 PM CDT
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No vaccine has been authorized yet for kids under age 5.
No vaccine has been authorized yet for kids under age 5.(WRDW)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As COVID cases rise in some parts of the U.S., a White House COVID advisor says people should follow the CDC’s guidance on wearing masks on planes, buses, subways and trains. Meanwhile, a Children’s Hospital doctor expresses frustration over the lack of a COVID vaccine for young kids.

Dr. Cameron Webb is a senior policy advisor for the White House COVID-19 Response Team, and he spoke to FOX 8 News on Friday.

“The White House’s advice today is the same as the White House’s advice last week and last month: to follow CDC’s guidance, it’s rooted in science, it’s coming from the experts designed with you in mind, to keep you as safe as possible in the midst of this public health emergency and so the current CDC guidance remains that people should wear masks in these public transportation spaces, buses, trains and air travel as well,” said Dr. Webb.

Children’s Hospital New Orleans Physician-in-Chief Dr. Mark Kline is concerned about the U.S. still not having a COVID vaccine for kids under the age of five.

“I feel a deep sense of disappointment that we don’t have a vaccine for children under the age of five. There are about nearly 20 million children in that age group. We know that they’re at high risk for disease from COVID-19, we know that particularly during the Omicron surge they were hospitalized at a high rate and we know that there were hundreds of deaths of children under five,” said Kline.

He recently tweeted his sentiments.

“It’s the best tool we have to keep people safe and it’s unavailable and it’s unacceptable,” said Kline.

FOX 8 asked Dr. Webb about a possible timeline for getting a vaccine approved for young children.

“Yeah, I agree that it’s concerning that there is not yet a vaccine for kids under five and the reason it’s concerning is the virus is still out there, the pandemic is not over and the only folks right now in our country that don’t have the ability to get a vaccine are under the age of five, so from the administration’s standpoint we really are working as quickly as we can to make sure that there’s a safe and effective vaccine available for kids as soon as possible,” he said.

Still, he said the White House will not interview federal agencies who have responsibility for approving vaccines.

“In terms of a timeline, again the White House doesn’t, it’s not our objective to exert a political pressure on these science-based agencies like the FDA or like the CDC,” said Webb.

Many kids who are old enough to be vaccinated have not received the shots.

“Here in Louisiana only about 10% of the children in the 5 to 11 year age group have been vaccinated at this point and about 40% of kids in the 12 to 17 year age group, we’re lagging the national numbers and so we’ve got a lot of work to do here in Louisiana,” said Kline.

On masks, Kline believes they still have an important role in society.

“Vaccination is the number one tool that we have to protect ourselves and masks are number two. Think of it like seatbelts and airbags in your car; the vaccine is the seatbelt, and the mask is your airbag, it’s another layer of protection and so, you know, particularly when we have as many people as we do in our society who have impaired immune systems,” he said.

Webb concedes there may be confusion in the public given the changes.

“With so many different inputs it does muddy the water a little bit, that’s part of why we go out as much as possible to try to point people back to that authoritative source of truth, really rooted in the science, really rooted in the evidence, really not rooted in any political objectives here. CDC’s goal is to really just look at what’s the science telling us, how can we apply that to keep the public as safe as possible,” he said.

Webb says the Biden administration is keeping an eye on the uptick in COVID cases.

“We’re seeing that they’ve ticked up some in the northeast, particularly that’s where we’re seeing the most increases but they’re still at significantly lower levels than what we saw earlier in the year also keep in mind that cases aren’t going to be your best marker, at this point in time, because so many people are doing at-home testing that’s not recorded with those cases levels, so we’re also looking at wastewater testing, we’re looking at symptom surveys, we’re looking at Google searches for COVID-like symptoms,” Webb said.

Kline says people in Louisiana should not let their guard down.

“We’ve caught a little bit of a break in Louisiana over the past few weeks, the rates are really low right now, but we know that COVID is hitting some other parts of the country hard. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that it won’t eventually reach us here in Louisiana as well,” he said.

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