Lack of vaccine access for kids under 12 leaves parents in limbo

Pediatrician says unvaccinated population, including children, should wear masks while indoors in public

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer via AP) (Uncredited, Pfizer)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Children under 12 won’t be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine until mid-winter, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The lack of access to the vaccine leaves families with few options to protect their children against the disease caused by novel coronavirus.

That includes Michelle Marciniak, who has seven children, four of whom aren’t eligible to receive the COVID-19 shot.

“I feel guilty for them. It makes me a little frustrated. I don’t know what else to do,” said Marciniak, who’s particularly concerned because one of her children has a heart condition, which means getting sick could entail a trip to the hospital.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, a Jacksonville-based pediatrician, said Marciniak is doing the right thing. He said parents shouldn’t take any chances with the virus, adding that now’s the time for parents to take stock of where it’s safe for their families to go.

“They should not be going into restaurants, they should not be going to hotels, they should reconsider where they’re going on vacation, and so on,” Dr. Goldhagen told News4Jax on Friday.

With cases of COVID-19 on the rise nationwide, including here in Florida, Goldhagen said anyone who’s unvaccinated should not spend time indoors in public settings without a face mask.

Goldhagen said he hopes people who are eligible for the vaccine choose to get vaccinated, especially given the spread of the delta variant, which is believed to be more transmissible, and news of vaccine eligibility not lowering anytime soon.

“Here’s the message for parents: children get COVID, children get sick from COVID, children get hospitalized from COVID, children die from COVID,” he said. “Parents should not be taking any risk for their children.”