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Pfizer asks US to allow COVID shots for kids ages 5 to 11

Oct 7, 2021, 6:49 AM
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine...
(Vials containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(Vials containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at the Mountain America Exposition Center in Sandy on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Pfizer asked the U.S. government Thursday to allow use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 — and if regulators agree, shots could begin within a matter of weeks.

Many parents and pediatricians are clamoring for protection for children younger than 12, today’s age cutoff for the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. Not only can youngsters sometimes get seriously ill, but keeping them in school can be a challenge with the coronavirus still raging in poorly vaccinated communities.

Pfizer announced in a tweet that it had formally filed its application with the Food and Drug Administration.

Now the FDA will have to decide if there’s enough evidence that the shots are safe and will work for younger children like they do for teens and adults. An independent expert panel will publicly debate the evidence on Oct. 26.

One big change: Pfizer says its research shows the younger kids should get a third of the dose now given to everyone else. After their second dose, the 5- to 11-year-olds developed virus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teens and young adults get from regular-strength shots.

While kids are at lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 does sometimes kill children and cases in youngsters have skyrocketed as the extra-contagious delta variant has swept through the country

“It makes me very happy that I am helping other kids get the vaccine,” said Sebastian Prybol, 8, of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is enrolled in Pfizer’s study at Duke University and doesn’t yet know if he received the vaccine or dummy shots.

“We do want to make sure that it is absolutely safe for them,” said Sebastian’s mother, Britni Prybol. But she said she will be “overjoyed” if the FDA clears the vaccine.

Pfizer studied the lower dose in 2,268 volunteers ages 5 to 11, and has said there were no serious side effects. The study isn’t large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as the heart inflammation that sometimes occurs after the second dose of the regular-strength vaccine, mostly in young men.

If the FDA authorizes emergency use of the kid-sized doses, there’s another hurdle before vaccinations in this age group can begin. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will decide whether to recommend the shots for youngsters, and the CDC will make a final decision.

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AP journalist Emma Tobin contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


 


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.
  • Get vaccinated.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

 

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Pfizer asks US to allow COVID shots for kids ages 5 to 11