Central Florida health expert says vaccinating elementary school-aged kids could end pandemic

Pfizer sent out a news release on Monday saying studies are showing their vaccines to be safe and effective in 5 to 11-year-olds. 

 For children of that age, the dosage is a third of what is given to everyone else. 

Pediatrician Salma Elfaki, who owns Nona Pediatrics, has seen firsthand what the virus and the pandemic are doing to young people. 

"It’s so disruptive this pandemic and I’m looking forward to the FDA approving this as soon as possible," Dr. Elfaki said.  "The more we get ‘vaxed’, the closer we are to herd immunity," Dr. Elfaki said. 

Dr. Raul Pino, with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, is encouraged by the news too.  

"Having the vaccine for that age group is going to mean the beginning of the end of the pandemic," Dr. Pino told reporters Monday. 

RELATED: Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine works in kids ages 5 to 11, plans to seek authorization soon

Dr. Elfaki warns there’s a big wild card in getting to herd immunity.  That is vaccine hesitancy.  She talks to dozens of patients' parents each week about getting their 12 to 18-year-olds vaccinated, but some straight up won’t even let her broach the subject.  

"I don’t want it and I don’t want to talk about it," Dr. Elfaki explained. 

She said about half of her 12 to 18-year-old patients have received the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr. Elfaki oversaw Moderna’s clinical trial on kids ages 12 to 18 in Florida.  

"I have not seen any child present with any significant side effects from the vaccine," Dr, Elfaki said.  

On the flip side, she’s seen lots of children get severely ill from getting COVID-19. Some getting myocarditis from the virus, others getting pneumonia,  she even has one patient that developed bells palsy after getting the virus. 

Dr. Elfaki says many of the parents of her 12 to 18-year-old patients who have been vaccinated are looking forward to getting their younger children vaccinated. 

WATCH FOX 35 News for the latest Central Florida headlines.