Drug-maker company Pfizer has asked the U.S. to authorize extra-low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5. The move could potentially open the door for younger Americans to start rolling up their sleeves by next month.
U.S. regulators were calling on Pfizer officials to apply for emergency authorization for a two-dose regimen of its COVID-19 vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old while awaiting data on a three-dose course.
The company's application was submitted on Tuesday afternoon.
Early Pfizer data has shown the vaccine — which is administered to younger kids at one-tenth the strength of the adult shot — is safe and produces an immune response.
But last year Pfizer announced the two-dose shot proved to be less effective at preventing COVID-19 in kids ages 2-5, and regulators encouraged the company to add a third dose to the study on the belief that another dose would boost the vaccine's effectiveness much like booster doses do in adult, according to NBC News.
Now that the application has been submitted, there are a couple of steps that need to happen before Pfizer's vaccines can receive Emergency Use Authorization.
- A team of FDA experts examines Pfizer's data on the COVID-19 vaccines.
- The CDC's advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must carefully analyze the data.
- The CDC director signs off on the usage of the vaccines for children under the age of 5.
Dr. John Schreiber is the Interim Chief of Infectious Diseases at Connecticut Children's and spoke with NBC Connecticut before the decision was announced.
“It’s an exciting development that I think is going to move us much better forward," said Dr. Schreiber. “It’s going to allow schools to open more normally, it’s going to prevent some of the long-term effects of COVID that we see in children who get natural infection with it.”
Tanya Carrion has a daughter who could be eligible to get vaccinated if Pfizer's vaccine receives emergency-use authorization. However, Carrion is on the fence about allowing her daughter to roll up her sleeves.
"My child is two years old and I don't want her to get the vaccine just yet," said Carrion. "I’d rather her be a little bit older so I don’t agree with it yet,”
Tess Kazakidis has a 19-month-old and said she would like to get her daughter vaccinated as soon as possible after the entire family caught COVID-19 and her daughter is still experiencing some long-term COVID-19 complications.
"I feel comfortable getting her vaccinated," said Kazakidis. "I want to protect her and she has all of her other vaccines."
Hartford Health Care pediatrician Lucia Benzoni believes the next age group eligible for shots should be 2 to 5 year olds.
"These kids are getting a lot of shots in the first 15 months of life and to add 3 more shots, that’s going to be a hard sell to parents, especially when the hospitalization rates and death rates for children are mild," said Dr. Benzoni.
Bottom line from infectious disease experts is the move is a step in the right direction in the fight against COVID-19.
"Very excited for them to have the potential to be protected against both the COVID virus and the complications that could arise from it," Chief Medical Officer at Saint Mary's Hospital Dr. Husnain Kermall said.