Pfizer is seeking emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to make its COVID-19 vaccine available for children ages 5 to 11.
Last week talks of preliminary data showing strong results among children 5 to 11 was publicized by Pfizer and BioNTech. The German partner that has helped Pfizer make the vaccine with more than 90% efficacy against COVID-19 said children would receive a smaller dose than adults.
Poorly vaccinated communities remain the biggest challenge, as COVID-19 spreads in those places more quickly. Pfizer announced on Thursday that it formally filed an application with the FDA to seek approval.
What does approval mean for children?
After the FDA decides whether it’s safe enough for kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer, schools will be faced with a decision: Mandate the vaccine among children, like many other vaccinations – or let the school year play out.
Across the U.S. schools have had issues with vaccinating, as well as testing and quarantines. Making matters worse, cases among children — especially younger kids — have skyrocketed since summer.
Is a lower dose of the vaccine safe and effective in kids?
The short answer appears to be yes. At least according to Pfizer and BioNTech. They studied the lower dose in 2,268 volunteers between 5 and 11 years old. There were no serious side effects, the company added, which could give officials confidence to issue mandates inside schools.
One catch is that the study isn’t large enough to detect the extremely rare side effects – like heart inflammation, which sometimes occurred after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in young men.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also play part in the decision to give authorization.
What are parents saying about the prospect of authorization?
“I’m ready for it,” Alexa Johns told FingerLakes1.com. The mother of three said that her family has been having an ongoing discussion about the COVID vaccine, as well as potential risks. Initially skeptical, the family decided that getting vaccinated, as soon as regulators allowed, would be the best course of action for them. “We’ve had plenty of conversations about this, and our family is ready. All three of our children are between 5 and 11, so this will make us fully protected as a family unit.”
While there is still a significant amount of vaccine hesitancy in rural parts of America, states across the U.S. are reporting better vaccination numbers now.
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