UNMC health professionals ready to get their kids vaccinated

From left, Kari Neeman, MD, Jasmine Marcelin, MD, and Trevor  Van Schooneveld, MD

From left, Kari Neeman, MD, Jasmine Marcelin, MD, and Trevor Van Schooneveld, MD

UNMC experts have been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 since the early days of this pandemic.

They have cared for patients, helped run clinical trials and stepped into the vaccination effort.

But some of those experts also are parents of young children, and they have waited through waves of the pandemic for a chance to vaccinate their own kids against this novel coronavirus.

Now, their opportunity has arrived.

On Nov. 5, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control authorized use of the first pediatric vaccine against COVID-19.

The much-anticipated decision allows children ages 5 to 11 to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Locally, pediatricians, pharmacies and clinics have moved quickly to start vaccinating children in that age group. Parents are swiping up appointments.

UNMC parents are right with them. We asked a collection of our own health professionals to explain why they will be among the first to get their kids the Pfizer vaccine.

Kari Neemann, MD, associate professor, adult and pediatric infectious diseases, UNMC Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

"As a pediatric infectious diseases physician and mother of a 5-year-old I was so excited to see the unanimous recommendation from the ACIP (the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in children aged 5 to 11. Having been part of the Pfizer clinical trial in this age group, I know that no steps were skipped in evaluating the safety of this vaccine. The data shows this vaccine is safe and protects our children from serious illness associated with COVID-19 infection. This will be a huge step in gaining control of this pandemic so that one day our children can safely take off their masks and put this all behind them."

Jasmine Marcelin, MD, assistant professor of infectious diseases, UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases

"We have relied on vaccines for decades to protect our children from communicable diseases, and COVID-19 is no different. While I am happy that my own vaccination (and my husband’s) helps somewhat to protect my 5- and 9-year-old sons, I am looking forward to them having protection of their own, particularly since our school district has been resistant to mask requirements."

Trevor Van Schooneveld, MD, associate professor, UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases

"I have five children, four of whom have already been vaccinated. My youngest son just turned 10, and we are planning to vaccinate him to help prevent illness and the spread of COVID to other family members and friends. I feel very fortunate to live in a country where we have ready access to vaccines that are both safe and highly effective."

Alice Sato, MD, PhD, assistant professor, UNMC Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases

"I am so thrilled at the safety and efficacy — 90.7%! — of the mRNA vaccine for children ages five to 11, and the incredibly detailed review shared by the FDA and CDC leading up to authorization for vaccinating these kids. I have already scheduled my 9-year-old for his first shot, and he's excited to be vaccinated like his teen siblings already are. He was already great with his flu shot in October, so we're ready!"

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Nicole Kolm-Valdivia, PhD

Nicole Kolm-Valdivia, PhD, director of professional programs, interim assistant dean for academic affairs, UNMC College of Public Health

"Vaccines are one of the most effective public health prevention tools that exist. As both a mom and a public health professional, I have confidence in their safety. This virus is unpredictable in who it severely affects, which is terrifying to parents. Getting my kiddos vaccinated helps reduce their risk of serious infection and also means it’s safer for them to be around family members who are vulnerable.

"November is the month of gratitude, and I am grateful for vaccines!"


  1. Dr. Sheritta Strong says:

    Way to be an example for those in the community!

  2. Stacie Hamel says:

    Thank you for your work and for being open about the actions you are taking to fight the pandemic.

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