Children Health

Director of National Institutes of Health weighs in on whether children should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

(NewsNation Now) — Parents should decide on whether to vaccinate their children after seeing the data firsthand rather than turning to unverified sources like Facebook to make their decision, says the director of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Francis Collins weighed in on vaccine hesitancy, new data and whether kids should get the COVID-19 vaccine on Morning in America.

You can watch the full interview in the player above.

Collins said the data he has seen on coronavirus vaccines and kids is extremely promising. Pfizer and partner BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 on Thursday.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved by the FDA for Americans 16 years and up. Regulators have also approved emergency use authorization for kids 12-15 years old.

Collins encouraged parents to vaccinate their kids, saying vaccination is the best way to keep schools open throughout the winter months. He encouraged parents to look at the data that would be released by the end of the month by the FDA.

“I would say look at the data, that’s why we’ve been doing this so carefully,” Collins said. “Also, recognize we’ve been vaccinating children for other things for decades. We know a lot about what is safe and what isn’t and what to watch for.”

Collins told NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert that parents can soothe their potential anxiety over giving their children the vaccine by avoiding vaccine misinformation and getting their news from reputable sources, not social media.

“I know COVID has somehow ratcheted up people’s anxiety about vaccines, much more than perhaps in the past. A lot of that has been fed by social media statements that are frankly not true,” Collins said. “So parents, step back. Don’t read the Facebook posts about this. Look and see what the data looks like later this month when there is a very public discussion of it.”

Collins also addressed the changing data and said to be reassured by it, saying changing data allows for scientists to learn more about the virus. If the data isn’t changing, scientists aren’t learning.

“If you went to your stockbroker last week and they told you to buy something, and this week they told you to sell it, you wouldn’t say, ‘Oh you’re flip-flopping on me.’ You would say you must have new information,” Collins said. “The same is true here. So I am really troubled when people say, ‘Well, the recommendations ought to have been the same going back for more than a year.’ No. We know a lot more now than we did. And delta is like a whole new story and a whole new pandemic when this arrived.”

Collins is stepping down as the director of the NIH by the end of the year after having led the research center for 12 years.

Appointed director in 2009 by President Barack Obama, Collins was asked to remain in that post by Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden. He is the only presidentially-appointed NIH director to serve under multiple administrations.

Collins served as director of NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993-2008 and led the international Human Genome Project, which in 2003 completed a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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