Oct 29, 2021 - Podcasts

Answers to your questions on the kids COVID vaccine

The rollout for the Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids ages 5 through 11 could begin as early as next week. We answer some of your questions.

  • Plus, high stakes for the new Biden social spending framework.
  • And, oil and gas executives face a grilling on the Hill.

Guests: Axios' Tina Reed, Hans Nichols, and Andrew Freedman.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Alex Sugiura, Sabeena Singhani, Lydia McMullen-Laird, Michael Hanf, and David Toledo. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:


MARGARET TALEV: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday October 29th. I’m Margaret Talev, filling in for Niala Boodhoo.

Here’s what you need to know today: High stakes for the new Biden social spending framework. Plus, oil and gas executives face a grilling on the Hill.

But first, today’s One Big Thing: answers to your questions on the COVID vaccine for kids.

The rollout for the Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids ages five through 11 could begin as early as next week. So we asked you for your questions about how this will work and Axios’ healthcare editor Tina Reed has been tracking down some answers for you. Hey Tina.

TINA REED: Hi Margaret.

MARGARET: Before we get to those listener questions, when can we expect final approval and what should parents be doing right now to prepare?

TINA: We're expecting as early as today, we could see FDA approval, and then next week on Tuesday, a CDC committee's going to weigh in on it. And the CDC director is expected to give the okay. So that means shots could be in arms as early as the next Wednesday.

MARGARET: Oh, so everyone's fine for thanksgiving then?

TINA: Not exactly. I actually asked this question to Dr. Claire Boogaard over at Children's National Hospital. She's the medical director of the COVID-19 vaccine program there. Here's what she had to say.

DR. CLAIRE BOOGAARD: Still be vigilant over the holiday, wear your mask. No child under 11 in America will be fully protected by Thanksgiving.

MARGARET: We also got a question from Dan in Ohio about his two daughters who are four and five years old. He asks: “How much additional protection does the vaccine offer compared to the protection of their age?”

TINA: So your age actually doesn't offer any protection. I was speaking to Dr. Boogaard about this as well and while we have definitely seen that children do seem to be less likely to have severe outcomes with COVID-19, there are still concerns about certain kinds of heart inflammation, the potential for long COVID with kids. So when you look at that, compared to the protection from a COVID-19 vaccine, at least in her opinion, there really is no comparison. The vaccine wins.

MARGARET: Okay. We also heard from Kristi in Dearborn, Michigan,

KRISTI: I'm wondering what the vaccine recommendations are related to concerns with boys and myocarditis and pericarditis. I don't want to risk long-term heart issues for a possibly mild case of COVID because they're so young.

TINA: Speaking with Dr. Boogaard, she actually said this is another concern that she's heard a lot from parents. She said when you look at the numbers of heart inflammation cases in kids, first of all, it was mostly seen in young men. So we're talking kids in their adolescence. She's still telling parents the higher risk is the risk that comes from COVID-19 itself. She would still recommend the vaccine.

MARGARET: Tina finally, we heard from another parent in Colorado and she's asking about her daughter, who's going to be 12 in February. She wants to know: is it better for her children to get the dose which is one third of the adult dose or just wait three months and then get the full dose vaccine?

TINA: So Dr. Boogaard said that she would go for the children's dose, not wait for the adult dose. Her reasoning was not only the fact that the child could get the protection sooner, when they tested this vaccine, they were testing it in children who were in the obese or overweight categories. So these were children who were getting the same sort of antibodies based off of a third of a dose. So it turns out kids' immune systems are really, really effective. And that's why they're able to do a third of the dose and get such a good immune response.

MARGARET: Any other questions that you're hearing frequently or any other answers that you want to share with us from the doctor?

TINA: One of the questions that I've heard a few times is whether or not it's okay to take your kid to a pharmacy to get a vaccine instead of your pediatrician's office. The answer that I've heard from multiple sources is yes, it's totally fine. Particularly if you don't have a lot of questions, go ahead and take them to the pharmacy.

MARGARET: Tina Reed is Axios’ healthcare editor. Thanks Tina.

TINA: Thanks Margaret.

MARGARET: In 15 seconds: what you need to know about the week in politics.

[ad break]

MARGARET: Welcome back to Axios Today! I’m Margaret Talev.

President Biden told lawmakers yesterday that quote "my presidency will be determined" unquote by the passage of his two major spending bills -- the $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion, and the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. But last night the House delayed a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, without the votes to move ahead. So it’s definitely going to pass, right?

I asked Axios’ Hans Nichols: what happened yesterday...and what comes next?

HANS NICHOLS: So think of what happened on Thursday as a trust exercise gone wrong, like when you try to fall back into a crowd and your colleagues catch you. What happened was the president wanted to fall back. He said, “Trust me. We're all trusting each other. We're all one united party. We're going to get this done.” And then he gets on his plane. He flies off to Rome and there's no deal, no deal before he even lands. And in a lot of ways, there's kind of more mistrust now than before he came and spoke.

Progressives really want to see a firm commitment from Senator Manchin that he's going to vote for this overall social spending bill and climate change. Manchin pointedly has not said he's going to do it. They want to see a firm affirmation from Senator Kyrsten Sinema - the progressives do - that she's going to be for it. That's not there. So, you know, they've got a month to figure this out, right? They're basically punting. I mean, in some ways they almost have a month and a half, two months.

And there isn't really a hard deadline because it's not like the infrastructure package goes stale, but there is a diminishing lack of trust and that's a currency that seems to be devaluing. And that's the very currency that Democrats are going to need if they want to get this across the line. And by this, I mean, both the infrastructure bill and the separate social spending and climate package.

MARGARET: Thanks as always to Axios political reporter Hans Nichols.

Top executives from Exxon, BP, Chevron and Shell were grilled at a historic hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday. Lawmakers accused them of knowing their companies were contributing to climate change and spending millions of dollars to promote climate denial. None of the executives agreed to stop lobbying against climate legislation when pressed by Representative Carolyn Maloney.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY: I'm asking if you'll stop spending money either directly or indirectly to oppose efforts to reduce emissions and address climate change. Just stop spending money that’s a lie. Okay, I’ll take it that you don't want to take the pledge. All right.

MARGARET: Joining me now is Axios’ climate and energy reporter, Andrew Freedman. Hi Andrew.


MARGARET: Andrew catches up quick. What was the hearing supposed to accomplish?

ANDREW: The hearing was really supposed to showcase the misinformation tactics of the fossil fuel industry over the last several decades and the extent to which it continues today. The Democrats are trying to ease the way forward for clean energy legislation perhaps, to get the industry to change its ways and back off. And in other ways, you know, there is room for some government regulations. And there was a debate over this between Democrats and Republicans: does the first amendment protect speech in all cases, especially when it is speech that is essentially untruthful and getting across a message that is misleading people?

MARGARET: Where does this go? What does it all add up to?

ANDREW: I think they're gonna continue investigating for the next year. And this is very, you know, connected to a lot of the demands that climate activists are making of the Democratic party to hold companies accountable for causing climate change.

MARGARET: Andrew Freedman is a climate and energy reporter for Axios. Thanks so much.

ANDREW: Thanks for having me.

MARGARET: And one more note on this story: Representative Maloney said at the end of yesterday’s hearing that she intends to subpoena oil companies and trade groups for key documents related to all this.

That’s it for us this week!

Axios Today is brought to you by Axios and Pushkin Industries.

We’re produced by Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, David Toledo, and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Our sound engineers are Alex Sugiura and Ben O’Brien. Dan Bobkoff our Executive Producer leaves us this week -- thanks for everything Dan. Sara Kehaulani Goo is our Editor In Chief. And special thanks to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I’m Margaret Talev, in for Niala Boodhoo - thanks for listening - stay safe - and have the best Halloween weekend.

Go deeper