Local pediatricians, daycares hopeful COVID shots for young kids bring normalcy

Children under 5 will soon be able to get vaccinated against COVID.

Over the weekend, the FDA authorized Pfizer’s and Moderna’s shots for young kids. The CDC recommended those children get vaccinated.

NewsChannel 13 is learning more about how this affects daycares and camps.

Right now, kids under 2 years old, or those who can’t wear a mask, are forced to stay home for a full 10-day quarantine when exposed.

The childcare center NewsChannel 13 talked to says right now, quarantines are a huge headache for parents who have to scramble to find a place for their kid to go, or risk missing work for days at a time.

Tom Styles runs TSL Adventures, which has several daycare centers in the Capital Region. He says the quarantining has been tough on parents and on staff.

He showed NewsChannel 13 a preschool room that had just reopened after a full week due to a COVID case. Styles still had to send parents a bill.

"We do pay our staff when they’re in quarantine and rooms close, so we’re trying to guarantee income for our staff," Styles explained.

He’s hoping vaccines help the younger classrooms get back to normal.

"A larger portion of our business is school-aged children, and that seemed to settle, because they can get vaccinated," he said. "The last piece of this seems to be this younger subgroup."

However, state data shows some parents who got vaccinated themselves may not rush to do the same for their kids.

Just 37.2% of kids ages 5 to 11 in New York are fully vaccinated.

Nicole Topaltzas works at TSL Adventures as a supervisor. She got vaccinated, but wants to wait before vaccinating her 7-month-old daughter.

She says her vaccine didn’t prevent her from contracting COVID this winter. Her baby had it as well.

"I can make the decision for myself, but for my daughter, it kind of gets a little, do I want to risk that for her?" she said. "I would like to wait a little bit of time and see how everyone else’s children, or the people that opt to do it, how their kids react."

Pediatrician Dr. James Saperstone of Guilderland says those concerns are normal, and he’s heard them from numerous parents of young children.

"I don’t blame parents. They’re momma bears, and they want to protect their children – and of course – the best thing to help guide them through this is the pediatrician," he said, explaining that the vaccination effort for this age group will be a more personal process than it was for teens and adults who could head to a mass vaccination center.

However, he says pediatricians overwhelmingly agree on what the vaccine data shows.

"The studies actually show that this vaccine is causing less side effects in the younger kids, especially the kids under 2," Saperstone said.

He’s recommending it to all patients, even those who have recently had COVID.

"There was a big hospitalization rush with omicron this winter with kids under 5. I’m not saying they were critically ill, but they were hospitalized. They were dehydrated, they needed to be watched in the hospital, and this hopefully will prevent that," he said.

Right now, the Office of Children and Family Services requires children under age 2 or who can’t wear a mask to quarantine for a full 10 days when they recieve a postitve test result.

OCFS tells NewsChannel 13 they "will continue to follow the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and collaborate with the New York State Department of Health to assess whether any additional flexibility can be offered to help families and our childcare providers."