Mom of young children relieved COVID vaccine is safe for kids
RICHMOND, Va. -- Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11.
The vaccine maker said Monday it plans to seek authorization for this age group soon in the U.S., Britain and Europe.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. But many parents are anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their younger children.
Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-dose vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids. The kids developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults.
Samantha Wilkinson, the parent of a five-year-old and an eight-year-old said that this news has brought her comfort.
"It'll be a huge relief for us when they can finally get the shot," Wilkinson said. "I feel like we've been watching the light at the end of the tunnel get farther away and I feel like this is bringing it closer again."
While children in the age group will get the same two-dose regimen 21 days apart, Pfizer said that the age group got a third of the vaccine amount as those over 12. Despite the smaller dose, they found similar antibody levels as those 16 to 25 that got the higher dosage.
"Those little warrior cells that help us with our immunity," Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough, a General Pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU, said.
The company also reported similar side effects. Kimbrough said the dosage amount is a balancing act between side effects and response.
"Risk-benefit. You want to have the biggest reward with the least amount of risk," Kimbrough said.
Monday's announcement is the first of several steps before the shots could begin. The company said that it plans to apply for emergency use authorization as soon as possible. Its trial date, which hasn't been released yet, will undergo review from several federal agencies and committees.
"For us to all see together so that there's a transparent process to ensure that the vaccines that are given to the public are safe and effective," Christy Gray, the Director of the Division of Immunization for the Virginia Department of Health, said.
The Virginia Department of Health estimates that there are over 723,000 kids in this age group.
The possible vaccine approval, which could be by Halloween, comes amid a rise in pediatric COVID cases. Last week , the American Academy of Pediatrics reported a roughly 240% increase in pediatric cases compared with July.
"And we're anticipating that that is likely going to increase with school kids going back to school," Gray added. "We're in regular contact with pediatricians and working with them to enroll them as COVID vaccine providers, but, a lot of the healthcare industry is stretched thin right now because there's a lot of respiratory illness going on and there's a lot of appointments. And so, we're working to identify alternative vaccination sites for children five-to-11 to really help with that volume and including looking, also, at school based clinics."