Pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and BioNTech have publicly released data from their own research showcasing that their vaccine for children ages 5- to 11-years-old is effective at preventing symptomatic coronavirus infections for those ages.
The vaccine, which is administered as a smaller dose than what is used for individuals ages 12 and older, is nearly 91 percent effective at preventing kids from contracting COVID-19, the companies said Friday.
In addition to its efficacy, the companies also noted young children who were vaccinated developed antibodies to fight off coronavirus at levels that were just as strong as what has been seen in teens and young adults after vaccination.
Data from the companies’ study on the efficacy of their vaccine was submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will now give consideration to granting emergency use authorization to the shots. After that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will have the final say on whether the vaccine can be administered to children in the U.S.
A decision on the matter is expected sometime later this month or early November. If approved, the vaccine would begin being administered to kids between those ages, though it’s not expected that mass vaccination sites will return. Instead, the Biden administration is proposing that pharmacies, children’s hospitals and doctors’ offices become the main places where children are vaccinated.
If the vaccines get rolled out by early November, it could mean tens of millions of children could be fully vaccinated for protection against COVID-19 by the year’s end.
Many parents, concerned about their children developing symptoms of coronavirus as they return to school and other settings, are likely to be happy with this latest development regarding a vaccine for young ones. While young children are less likely to contract coronavirus or require hospitalization than teens or adults are, that doesn’t mean children can’t be harmed by the virus.
Indeed, from the start of the pandemic to this past week, more than 630 children under the age of 18 have died due to coronavirus, data from the CDC has shown.
Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, called the deaths of children in the U.S. an “embarrassment” during a town hall on vaccines earlier this month. With the development of a vaccine for children to be made available soon, the country had no more excuses, he added.
“No parent should have to lose their child to a vaccine-preventable illness if we have a vaccine that can be deployed that is safe and effective,” Marks said. “And we will only allow something to be authorized that we find to be safe and effective.”