For the approximately 28 million U.S. kids in this age group, reduced-dose shots for children could be available within weeks if regulators approve.
Parents and pediatricians are calling for protection for children under 12 years old, the current age limit for COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. Many children can become seriously ill from the virus. It can also be challenging to keep them in school due to the coronavirus still rampant in low-vaccinated areas.
The Food and Drug Administration must decide whether there is sufficient evidence to show that the shots are safe and effective in children younger than teen and adult age. On Oct. 26, a panel of independent experts will discuss the evidence publicly.
Pfizer and BioNTech, its German partner, said that their research has shown that younger children should receive one-third the amount currently given to all others. The 5- to 11-year olds had virus-fighting antibodies levels that were equal to those of teens and young adults after their second dose.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, COVID-19 can sometimes cause death in children, even though they are less likely to die from severe illness or other serious illnesses than those who are older. As the extra-contagious Delta variant spreads through the country, the number of cases among children has increased dramatically.
Some parents will be opposed to vaccinating their children. However, many parents of elementary school students eagerly await authorization after an 18-month period of stressful remote learning, COVID-19 infections, mask debates, and school quarantines.
They look forward to frequent visits from grandparents, worry-free playdates, vacations, and the ease of dropping their children off at school without worrying about them getting sick. Principals hope the shots will allow schools and other institutions to remain open and resume normal operations.
Sarah Staffiere, a Waterville, Maine resident, stated that she cannot wait to have her children vaccinated. She was especially excited about her 7-year old daughter, who has a rare immune disorder that has required her family to be extra vigilant during the pandemic.
"My son wanted to know about sports. "After you're vaccinated." He wanted to see his cousins again. Staffiere, Colby College senior laboratory instructor, said: "After you're vaccinated. A lot of our plans are put on hold." "When he is vaccinated, it will give our family our lives back."
Gib Brogan, Wayland, Massachusetts said that he is always worried about receiving a call from his school regarding virus exposure or infected. He hopes his child will be vaccinated before the holidays. Until that happens, the family will not stay over at relatives' houses.
He said that he knew the school district had established procedures and protocols, but every time he sent him off to school, he thought, "Are we going get a call?"
Pfizer tested the lower dose on 2,268 children aged 5-11 years old. There were no side effects. Although the study was not large enough to detect rare side effects such as heart inflammation, which can sometimes occur after regular-strength vaccinations, it is still possible to identify them in young men.
Heather Miller of Dexter in Maine said that no one in her six-member family is hurrying to get the vaccine. Her husband has an 18-year old daughter, and their three sons are ages 11, 8 & 3 years respectively. They have also been vaccinated against other serious illnesses.
She wants to wait for the COVID-19 vaccine follow-up study. She said that they don't have any medical history that would put them at risk.
Miller stated that although I'm not against it all, I do feel like I'm in the "not right now, wait to see" category.
The FDA may authorize emergency use of kid-sized doses. However, this is not the end of the road before vaccines for this age group can be started. Advisers to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide if they recommend vaccinations for children. The CDC will then make the final decision.
Pfizer will ship lower-dose vials specifically marked for children to avoid any mix-ups.
Moderna applied to FDA for permission to use the vaccine in children aged 12-17 years old. They are also studying the shots in elementary school kids. Moderna and Pfizer are also studying children as young as 6 months. More information will be available later in the year.
Sebastian Prybol (8 years old) from Raleigh, North Carolina said, "It makes my heart happy that I'm helping other children get the vaccine." He is currently enrolled at Duke University's Pfizer study and does not know if he has received the vaccine or dummy shot.
Britni Prybol, Sebastian's mother, said that "we do want to ensure it is absolutely safe" She said that she would be thrilled if the FDA cleared the vaccine.