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Pfizer announces vaccine “safe and effective” for ages 5-11: Local hospitals weigh in

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DULUTH, MN -- Pfizer announced in a press release Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5-11.

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

Dr. Andrew Thompson, an infectious disease doctor with St. Lukes Hospital said the vaccine news is promising but doesn't mean much without proper approvals.

He said the FDA needs to first issue a recommendation for the impacted age group.

They can then approve the expansion, either by full or emergency-use authorization.

He said St. Luke's will wait on recommendations from both the FDA and CDC to determine their plan for the age group.

"[The CDC] has a group of experts who make vaccine recommendations and we follow their vaccine recommendations for all kinds of conditions," said Thompson.

He said those recommendations would help hospitals determine things like which groups to prioritize, and how and when they would distribute those doses.

Essentia provided a statement, saying they plan to follow FDA guidelines and recommendations as well.

"We are aware of today's encouraging announcement regarding the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine's effectiveness for 5-11-year-olds. While this is a positive step in the right direction to protect our children, make our schools safer and provide another tool to fight the pandemic, there is still much to be done before this shot is available to this age group. Essentia Health will follow guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, upon approval, will be ready to vaccinate children aged 5-11 in the communities we serve.”

Despite the logistical obstacles, Dr. Thompson is optimistic.

"Really what I'm seeing out of their press release headline is that this is safe and effective in that age group so that's very good news," he said.

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Quinn Gorham

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