DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — After Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children 5- to 11-years-old, some health leaders believe when it receives FDA approval, it could dramatically decrease the amount of cases throughout Ohio’s young kids. However, other leaders disagree.

“If we look at the age range of the parents of those kids that are 5- to 11-years-old, we have less than 50 percent of that population immunized,” said Charles Patterson, health commissioner of the Clark County Combined Health District. “It would be hard for me to believe that we’d have a larger percentage of 5- to 11-years-olds vaccinated than their parents.”

Patterson believes if Pfizer obtains FDA approval for children 5- to 11-years-old, it won’t have a major impact on the current hospitalization crisis. Additionally, he said cases and hospitalizations are at the highest they’ve ever been in Clark County. Currently, most COVID-19 patients being hospitalized are in their 40s and 50s, but have seen an uptick in young adults in their 20s. 

“So while it could be a game changer, I can’t count on that,” Patterson said. “I thought the vaccine would be a game changer and it hasn’t been the one we thought it would be because the uptick is so low.”

 Dr. Roberto Colon, chief medical Officer of Miami Valley Hospital, believes parents may think twice when it comes to their child’s health.

“Right now we are seeing kids are the fast growing age demographic with new cases of COVID-19,” Colon said. “So having the ability to protect those who have yet had the ability of protection will protect a lot of people and help reduce the spread.”

Governor Mike DeWine said nearly 60 percent of schools across the state have instituted a mask mandate after nearly 30,000 students contracted the virus. One thing is for sure, health leaders say every child’s health is at risk.

“Really addressing the fact that kids are not immune to COVID-19, this myth has been dispelled,” Colon said.  “We have a record number of children in pediatric hospitals across the U.S. more than we ever have had during this pandemic.”

Right now health leaders expect Pfizer to obtain FDA approval sometime in late October.