Dr. Judy Richardson of The Dalles wholeheartedly recommends the pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for her young patients ages 5-11 and her own nieces and nephews.

“Its effectiveness is more than 90% against symptomatic COVID disease, which is actually better than adults,” said Richardson, a family practice doctor. “It was 100% effective against hospitalization and death.

Dr. Judy Richardson

Dr. Judy Richardson 

“In adults, we say it’s 93% effective against keeping you out of the hospital and dying. It’s not as effective. But for kids, 90% of them don’t get any symptoms. That was kind of surprising and a good thing,” she said.

The vaccine for children ages 5-11 is available at Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s family medicine and pediatric medicine doctor’s offices, One Community Health, and Fred Meyer, Walgreen’s and Rite-Aid pharmacies.

The study that Pfizer did of the pediatric vaccine was placebo-controlled — the gold standard for such studies, Richardson said. No one in the group of about 2,000 kids who got the vaccine developed myocarditis, a rare side effect seen in older adolescents and young male adults who have received the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines.

“That’s really reassuring to me as a mom and a physician. This dose is really safe that they picked,” she said.

“Knowing that data now, absolutely, all of my nieces and nephews — in a heartbeat I would have them get vaccinated. My daughter is already a teenager so she’s already been vaccinated,” Richardson said.

The safety profile of the vaccine is comforting, she said. “We know there’s no chance of dying from getting the vaccine.”

A family practice doctor, Richardson said parents ask her if the vaccine is safe and effective. “I say, ‘Yes it’s safe and yes it’s very effective.’ And the kids ask if it’s going to hurt and I’m honest with them and saying, ‘It’s going to hurt a little bit.’ You distract them a bit and get it done.”

She said, “As a physician, I’m confident that providing this vaccine is safe and it’s going to protect this child who is my patient in front of me.”

Not only that, “It’s going to protect their teachers, it’s going to protect their grandparents, who may have limited immunity, it’s going to protect them when they see them at Christmastime.”

Vaccination also protects kids’ ability to stay in school, where they get critical social time, she said.

When she talks to vaccine-hesitant parents, “90% of the time they’re missing a piece of information that they want,” she said. And if they’re not ready for a vaccine on the spot, “it’s totally fine not to get it today,” Richardson said.

She listens more than anything. Sometimes, they “want to just unload and talk about it. Maybe they had a bad vaccine reaction as a kid.”

The number of people who are truly anti-vaccine is small, she said. Most are in the middle, “and want the best for their kids and want to make a good decision and they’re scared.”

She said, “A lot of doctors do doctor speak and it doesn’t make any sense, and parents just want to talk.” She’s also sensitive to cultural issues, and if she can find a vaccinated parent who can relate to someone culturally, she tries to facilitate that.

The vaccine is available by appointment, for established patients only, at:

• Mid-Columbia Medical Center’s Family Medicine Clinic (541-296-9151)

• MCMC’s Pediatric Clinic (541-506-6520)

• One Community Health (541-296-4610)

Sherman County Medical Clinic in Moro is creating a sign-up list for kids ages 5-11, and it is open to the children of families who live or work in Sherman County. (541-565-3325)

These local pharmacies also offer the pediatric vaccine: