‘Step back, don’t read the Facebook posts’: Dr. Francis Collins on vaccinating kids and COVID-19

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — Dr. Francis Collins says parents should see the data firsthand and then make the decision on whether to vaccinate their children, rather than turning to unverified sources like Facebook to make their decision.

Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, 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 says 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 Thursday.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration 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.”

NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert asked Collins how parents can soothe their potential anxiety over giving their children the vaccine. Collins said to avoid vaccine misinformation and get your 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 feed 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 wasn’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, 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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