The following is a transcript of an interview with Claire Boogaard, Medical Director of the COVID-19 Vaccine Program, Children's National Hospital on Sunday, October 31, 2021.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We're joined now by Dr. Claire Boogaard, a pediatrician who also oversees the COVID vaccine program at Children's National Hospital here in Washington, DC. Good morning to you, doctor.
DOCTOR CLAIRE BOOGAARD: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, your hospital participated in this trial of the Pfizer vaccine for children? You saw what happened. Did you have any concerns?
DR. BOOGAARD: No, I think this is all really good news. What the independent advisory panel and the FDA looked at last week was really good science. They didn't skip any steps in this process. And the best news, both professionally, as someone who wants to take care of my patients, but also as a mom of a 6-year-old, is that this is awesome. There are no serious side effects given this lower dose of the vaccine to this lower group of kids, and it still protects kids from getting the infection.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, this type of technology, the mRNA vaccine, you don't have any misgivings about giving it to someone who's young and developing?
DR. BOOGAARD: No, not at all. Vaccines, all they do is they give your body a chance to build a response to something that's non-harmful so it can protect you against something that is harmful. And everything is risk-benefit. If there was no coronavirus in the country, well we wouldn't be talking about a vaccine, right? But instead, there's this life-threatening disease floating around our communities and in order to protect us, this is the safest, most effective way to do so.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, the- the panel that you mentioned that voted on this said the benefits outweigh the risks of myocarditis. That's a heart condition. Did your hospital see any of that? How concerned should parents be about impacts on the heart of their child?
DR. BOOGAARD: Yeah. The hospital's research is still part of the research that Pfizer reviewed last week. And again, there was no serious medical conditions or serious adverse reactions from this vaccine in that group, including myocarditis. The FDA knew this was a concern, and at the end of the summer, they asked Pfizer to increase the amount of patients in the study, and they've done so. And honestly, it's really good news. It's very safe.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, one of the questions raised was whether every child needs it versus if they had COVID in the past or if there are conditions. If you're a parent at home, how should you weigh these things?
DR. BOOGAARD: It's a good question. I talk about this all the time with my husband, with my family and with our patients, right? Everything is risk-benefit. So, you need to think about your own individual family situation. You also need to think about the community around you. For us as parents, we don't want anything bad to happen to our kids, right? COVID has bad complications with children — doesn't have it with all children, but has many. And it also has the complications in this young group of having long term issues, whether it's having symptoms that last longer than two months, which is the long COVID that people talk about, or developing a very serious, life-threatening condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That's the rash.
DR. BOOGAARD: Yeah, it's actually- it's where your- your body is inflamed in a very serious way and it can be life threatening, requires critical care in some kids. That to me as a parent, is enough for me to say, you know what? I don't want my kid to get a booger. I don't want my kid to get bad. And if I have a choice, I'd rather use this super safe vaccine to get them back into school and back to their normal life.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, kids who are younger than 5 years old, that my children, toddlers, infants, they're still going to have to wait. Pfizer said well into 2022 before they get vaccinated. So, what's your best advice to the parents of the very young?
DR. BOOGAARD: To stay vigilant and with you to have a 4-year-old? So, I hear you loud and clear but be optimistic. They are also lowering the dose for that group too. Keep in mind this Pfizer vaccine has now been given to millions of people. We're just now offering it a lower dose to a younger population who has a strong immune system. So, I'm optimistic that the research will still look really positive in the young kids. And I also know that scientists take this very seriously. They do not want to offer something that's going to harm people. Myself as a doctor, I don't want to- I don't want to go out advocating for something that I don't think is safe. So, I promise hope is coming. We're almost at the end of this. But for those who are unvaccinated, you are still at risk for getting the virus itself. So, keep with the social distancing masking and follow the public health guidelines in your area.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The CDC director continues to say she's so concerned that only a third of pregnant women are vaccinated. If you are vaccinated while pregnant, what do you tell your patients about their children that they bring into you? Are those kids protected?
DR. BOOGAARD: Good question. We anticipate that if someone was infected during pregnancy or given the vaccine, that there is a chance that they have some protection with the antibodies that mom made that are shared to the child. There's also a protection if you're breastfeeding. What we don't know is how protected that child is. So, what we don't want you to do is assume since you had it as a pregnant lady or a breastfeeding woman, that your child is protected because we can't guarantee that, but it's all something we recommend.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Doctor, thank you for your advice. Thank you for joining us in studio. We'll be back in a moment.
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