Tenn. representative asks Gov. Bill Lee to halt COVID vaccine distribution for children
Rep. Jason Zachary, along with several GOP housemembers, sent a letter to Gov. Lee asking him to halt COVID vaccine promotion as well.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee Representative Jason Zachary has joined a coalition of GOP housemembers in asking Gov. Bill Lee to halt COVID-19 vaccine distribution, promotion or recommendation for children under five years of age.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the first COVID shots for infants and preschoolers Friday. The FDA’s choice followed its advisory panel’s unanimous recommendation for the shots from Moderna and Pfizer. The only step left is a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to use the vaccine in young children, which should come Saturday.
Rep. Zachary claimed in his letter that the FDA’s trial and recommendation raises questions that he thinks need to be answered before the shots are put into use. Namely, Zachary is concerned about how the FDA conducted trials, claiming that several vaccinated children did not see a lower risk for severe illness than those in the placebo group.
Zachary also stated that several other studies, including some by the vaccine manufactures themselves, did not prove a decrease in risk for vaccinated children.
“We are facing troubling directives from the federal government that require unwavering conservative leadership on behalf of our most vulnerable Tennesseans,” Zachary said. “We ask that you direct the Tennessee Department of Health to halt distribution, promotion or recommendation of COVID-19 vaccines for our youngest Tennesseans.”
It’s important to note, however, that several health experts, including those at the state and federal level, have recommended the vaccine in anyone eligible. Studies have found that the benefits of getting the shot far outweigh the minimal side effects that may come with. Studies from Moderna and Pfizer have shown that side effects like fatigue and fever were mostly minor.
“Both of these vaccines have been authorized with science and safety at the forefront of our minds,’’ Dr. Peter Marks, FDA’s vaccine chief, said at a news briefing. “Whatever vaccine your health care provider, pediatrician has, that’s what I would give my child.”
Vaccine rates in younger people are lower than those in older people, according to the FDA. Officials acknowledged this lower rate and said the government is committed to getting more older kids vaccinated and having better success with younger kids.
“It’s a real tragedy, when you have something free with so few side effects that prevents deaths and hospitalization,’’ said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf.
Additionally, the FDA’s recommendation is just that- a recommendation. At the end of the day, it’s up to parents to decide whether or not to vaccinate their young children.
WVLT News reached out Gov. Lee’s office for further information, and was given the following statement in response:
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