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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

New Study Finds Parents Divided On Vaccinating 5-11-Year-Olds; Public Health Groups Fear Increase In Threats And Harassment; Taiwan's President Speaks With CNN. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 28, 2021 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good Thursday morning. This is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-four minutes past the hour.

We are days away from shots in little arms, and a new study finds parents are worried about vaccinating young children against COVID. The FDA and CDC could grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for children age five to 11 by next week. But look at this. Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds concerns about possible side effects may be holding some parents back.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here with more on the findings. And I would say parents are divided here on what they're going to do. They're a little bit worried about side effects?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They really are very much divided and the question is are these worries going to keep them from vaccinating their children. It's so important that children get vaccinated, first of all, to protect them. COVID does kill children. It does put children in the hospital. And you never know if it's going to be your child or not so you don't want to roll the dice with your child.


Also, Christine -- you know this as a mom -- children are great at spreading germs. Even if your child were to get COVID and even be asymptomatic, they could get somebody else sick -- a grandma, a parent, someone who is immune-compromised.

So, let's take a look at what this Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed when they talked to parents just a few weeks ago. What they found was only 27 percent of parents for -- of children ages five to 11 said that they would vaccinate their children right away.

Thirty-three percent said they would wait and see. Thirty percent said definitely no, and five percent said if required. That 33 percent -- that's where the public health communication really has to come in. That's who needs to be talked to. That's who need -- that group needs to get the information.

Interestingly, what this poll showed is that a major concern of parents is about fertility -- is about the chance that the shot could cause some fertility problem, which is -- I'm just going to say it -- ridiculous. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to think that these shots would cause infertility issues. This is a Facebook --


COHEN: -- sort of silliness that got invented. But it's going to be tough to un-ring that bell -- Christine.

ROMANS: What we know is 745 children have died of COVID. We know that is -- that is the fact. And kids can really spread --

COHEN: Right.

ROMANS: -- diseases.

You called them disease vectors -- you and your husband. I know I call mine little Petrie dishes. But it is very true. This is a big pot of --


ROMANS: -- 28 million kids who could help end or at least beat back coronavirus if we have big vaccination numbers.

You know, Elizabeth, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

It's time for three questions in three minutes. Let's bring in Dr. Susannah Hills, pediatric airway surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center. Thank you so much for joining us.

You know, it is completely fair to ask questions. Tell us why people shouldn't hesitate to give their kids this shot.

DR. SUSANNAH HILLS, PEDIATRIC AIRWAY SURGEON, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER (via Skype): Well, Christine, first of all, everyone needs to remember that kids really are at risk in this pandemic. Right now, 25 percent of our cases (audio gap). Over 8,000 kids have been hospitalized, and we're approaching 800 deaths from this virus in children. So the problem is really impacting our children.

But we have a vaccine that works. The Pfizer data that they submitted for FDA authorization showed that the vaccine -- Pfizer vaccine was about 91 percent effective in preventing symptomatic illness in our kids. So we have a vaccine that is effective.

And I just don't see how we're going to get out of this pandemic without protecting our pediatric population, which is about 22 percent of our overall population in the U.S. The vaccines are going to be incredibly important for this pediatric population

ROMANS: Here's what Dr. Fauci told my colleague Don Lemon last night about getting kids vaccinated -- listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I do feel it's important to vaccinate children. All you need to do is go to the pediatric hospitals around the country and you see particularly with the Delta variant, which has a much greater chance of transmitting, that more kids are getting infected.


ROMANS: You know better than anyone. What have you seen on your pediatric floor?

HILLS: Yes. Well, throughout the pandemic we've really seen a whole spectrum of disease. Of course, the most common scenario that I'm seeing is kids who are testing positive or who have a relatively mild illness. But, boy, I've taken care of kids in the hospital up in the ICU and kids have gotten severely ill with this disease in our own hospital. So, the whole spectrum of disease is happening.

ROMANS: Yes, I know.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- his big concern has been, especially among teenagers and young people, six months after they've had a mild or moderate case of coronavirus still have these lingering symptoms -- you know, still are very tired -- and it really kind of holds back their development, and that's something that parents should be concerned about.

It can be so tricky for kids to understand -- kids to understand what's going on here. If you're a parent and you've decided you want to vaccinate your child, how should you talk to them about the vaccine that they are receiving?

HILLS: That is such a great question. I think really being honest and upfront about why you're going to the doctor or the clinic -- telling them they're going to get a vaccine. Letting them ask questions. Kids have really smart questions, too, so asking -- or allowing children, rather, to ask questions. And giving them information is so important.

I think also explaining to them that they're protecting themselves. Explaining to them that other kids are getting sick and they want to protect children around them is really helpful.

And then, coming up with a plan so they have a little control over the experience. Maybe allowing them to pick something comfortable to wear or to bring -- a game or a stuffed animal or something that will help keep them comforted. And rewarding them in the end for being brave and for facing their fears, potentially, of getting a shot.


All those things are really helpful.

ROMANS: Yes. Our deal at my house is a bag of gummy bears when it's all over, so that's the bribery I'm using and that's all they need. Thanks so much, Dr. Susannah Hills. Really nice to see you this morning -- thanks.

HILLS: You bet.

ROMANS: All right. The potential rollout of COVID vaccines for young children has some public health groups concerned about protests -- anti-vaccine protests and threats to their safety of public health officials.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials is asking the Justice Department to help keep local health department workers safe. And experts say some of the people making these threats against public health officers are members of far-right extremist groups.

CNN's Jacqueline Howard has more.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): Public health groups, at this point, are very concerned about threats and harassment escalating. Now, this is an ongoing problem stemming back to the start of the pandemic.

But I spoke with the head of the National Association of County and City Health Officials and she says that public health officers tend to face harassment with any new COVID-19 mitigation measure that's introduced to the public. And in this case, that new measure is vaccines for kids.

Have a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rollout of the pediatric vaccine is another critical turning point and we anticipate that there will be people who may, again, target public health officials and their messaging related to the rollout of this latest mitigation measure. We are so concerned that as time goes on, as this pandemic goes on that these threats, intimidation, harassment, and -- really are advancing in some cases and becoming more dangerous.

HOWARD (on camera): Now, as far as the threats becoming more dangerous, the Southern Poverty Law Center says that some of this harassment might be coming from members of extremist groups.

The Center tells CNN, quote, "In tracking political violence in recent months and the anti-government militia movement for decades, we find this trend of increased threats and intimidation directed at local public health officials, as well as other local officials, very concerning. Our research indicated that some of the threats have come from individuals with known affiliation with far-right organizations that have been advocating and participating in violence."

And these types of threats are coming at the same time that there has been an exodus of public health officials resigning. So that's another concern -- that harassment is driving away, possibly, public health officers at a time when we need them the most -- Christine. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Jacqueline. Thank you so much for that.

To the housing market now. Soaring prices, tight inventory, demand on fire -- it is still red-hot in real estate. But no one seems concerned about a housing bubble, just like last time, actually. The housing bubble inflated, of course, from 2004 to early 2007 before prices crashed and dragged the economy into the Great Recession.

Today, the hot housing market is overshadowed by other drags on the economy. There's the worker shortage that gets headlines, decades' high inflation, supply chain nightmare and, of course, we're in the middle of a pandemic.

Home prices have been soaring for months. Look at that. Year-over-year price increases almost 20 percent. The median home price, a record- high $352,800. And prices are not showing any signs of slowing down. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs predicted prices would rise by another 16 percent by the end of next year.

So far, the belief is prices won't crash this time around. A chief economist at Moody's Analytics said he's worried the market is in for a hard landing. He doesn't expect the market to -- and the economy to crumble like last time.

I'm going to be talking more about the red-hot housing market madness later today at CNN Business. Join us for a "Foreseeable Future" event featuring Corcoran Group founder, "SHARK TANK" star, Barbara Corcoran. We'll be streaming live today at noon eastern time. Head to to sign up.

We'll be right back.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

In her first international T.V. interview in close to two years, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen talks to CNN exclusively in Taipei. She says rising tensions between Beijing and Taipei bring the most challenging time for the people of Taiwan. This comes as Beijing steps up its military pressure over the democratic island just off of China's southeastern coast.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Taipei. He joins us now with more on his exclusive interview and what the president said. What did she tell you?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of people have been wanting to hear from President Tsai Ing-wen, Christine, because Taiwan is really the -- at the moment, at least, the flashpoint when it comes to U.S.-China tensions in this part of the world, and the tensions have been ratcheting up. You talked about China flying those warplanes -- 150 -- just five days earlier this month.

I asked President Tsai about that, about the relationship across the Taiwan Strait. She said that she is open to having a dialogue with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But I asked her specifically about her relationship with the United States, meaning the island of Taiwan's relationship with the United States, and whether she feels confident that Taiwan would come -- that Taiwan would be assisted if China were to invade by the U.S. Because remember, at that CNN town hall last week, President Biden said that the U.S. has a commitment to defend Taiwan. Then the White House walked it back because the U.S. is supposed to be strategically ambiguous and not let China know what they would actually do.

Here was President Tsai's response.


TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN: People have different interpretation of what President Biden has said.

RIPLEY: Do you have faith that the United States would defend Taiwan if the mainland were to try to move on Taiwan?

ING-WEN: I do have faith, given the long-term relationship that we have with the U.S.



RIPLEY: President Tsai also confirmed something that no Taiwanese leader has publicly confirmed -- no Taiwanese president has publicly confirmed in more than 40 years -- that U.S. troops are, indeed, on this island right now helping to train Taiwanese troops. Small numbers but, still, that has never been confirmed by the president of Taiwan until this interview, Christine.

That is certainly something that we have to watch for any sort of reaction from Beijing because even though it's sort of been an open secret they view any troop presence here on the island, big or small, as an act of aggression.

ROMANS: Certainly, a challenge for Taiwan. Also, a potential foreign policy hurdle for the United States or complication for the United States.

We're so glad that you are there in Taipei for us following it all. Thanks, Will.

All right, to the U.S. now. The northeast is bracing for another soaking heading into the weekend. It could compound flooding and impact the clean-up from a nor'easter earlier this week that still has more than 366,000 customers in New England in the dark.

Here is meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, good morning, Christine.

We're finally watching this nor'easter move away from the coastline. Unfortunately, another system right on the heels of it producing severe weather along portions of the southeast today. And then by tomorrow, it'll get interesting again around the northeast.

And, of course, we're just wrapping up this 90-plus mile per hour wind event that was observed across coastal areas of Massachusetts into areas into New England as well. We had wind gusts that are equivalent to a category one -- high-end category one hurricane. And, of course, that left behind almost 400,000 customers without power, mainly across Massachusetts at this hour.

But notice that strong storm departs. A weaker storm on approach here, but still 50, maybe 60 mile per hour gusts possible once we get to the height of this come Friday night into Saturday.

Additional rainfall -- yes, we're certainly going to see that as well. We think as much as one-half inch to an inch widespread, but you'll notice some pockets of maybe one to three inches possible. That's around Boston and points to the north around areas of eastern, say, Maine, and also eastern areas of New Hampshire.

So this is certainly going to be another round of heavy rainfall in the forecast going in from Friday into Saturday around the northeast -- Christine.


ROMANS: All right, Pedram. Thank you so much for that.

Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, declines in Asian shares and a mixed start to European markets.

On Wall Street, a little bit higher here for stock index futures this morning. They finished Wednesday mostly lower, slipping from record highs here. The Dow closed down 266. The S&P 500 also fell slightly. But again, really close to record highs.

And there's a bunch of things for investors to consider today. First, bracing for a lackluster third-quarter GDP report -- estimated 2.7 percent growth. Obviously, in normal times -- in the last 10 years or so -- that would be fine. But you can see where it comes from. It comes from a pretty strong spring.

Big oil CEOs will testify at a congressional hearing at 10:00 a.m. eastern about their role in spreading climate disinformation. Facebook will likely unveil its rebrand effort even as it deals with the fallout from a damaging document dump, so watch Facebook shares. And we'll get earnings reports from big companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks. The war for talent rages on. Costco raised its minimum wage for the

second time this year. A parade of companies has hiked pay to lure in and keep workers in a tight labor market. The new minimum wage at Costco is 17 bucks an hour, $2.00 above Amazon and Target's minimum, and $5.00 an hour above Walmart.

Look, health concerns in this pandemic have kept millions of workers home. They are taking care of family or they're looking for better jobs before they come out and try in the pandemic jobs market. Companies are offering higher pay, sign-up bonuses, and sweeter benefits packages to attract talent.

All right, the internet exploding over the release of the first trailer for Buzz Lightyear's origin story.


Clip from Disney-Pixar's "Lightyear."


ROMANS: The Disney-Pixar animated adventure follows the real space ranger who inspired the toy from the "Toy Story" franchise. In the film, Buzz is being voiced by actor Chris Evans. "Lightyear" is due to hit theaters in June 2022.

All right. While the FDA advisory panel voted to recommend the COVID vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, late-night hosts were administering some jabs of their own.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": And it was a unanimous vote with one abstention. One doctor did not vote yes. This doctor, Steven U (ph) who said -- who said the vaccine is poopy and dum-dum.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": In a few weeks you're going to see bouncers outside Chuckie Cheese checking vaccine cards. Not today, Timmy -- sorry.

Kids can get the shot as soon as next week -- great timing, right -- after they go door-to-door on Halloween.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Hey, kids, guess who gets to go to the doctor twice in the space of three weeks? And don't worry -- he will stab you.


ROMANS: He will stab you -- very funny.

Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" is next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, October 28th. I'm John Berman alongside Brianna Keilar.

And breaking this morning, rescue mission. It's all happening right now, or not happening, which could be the biggest risk for President Biden. What a morning it is for him. In the next few hours, the president will either be declaring victory on a deal on his social agenda or explaining why he couldn't bring Democrats together to pass.