Another step is underway in the push to vaccinate children against COVID-19.
Pfizer announced Thursday it officially submitted a request to the FDA for emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in kids 5 to 11 years old. The company is looking to amend its EUA to include the age group, which if granted, would offer 5- to 11-year-olds the first COVID-19 vaccine option for them.
The FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is expected to meet Oct. 26 to discuss Pfizer's request and hear input from public health experts.
An FDA spokesperson states, "While the FDA cannot predict how long its evaluation of the data and information will take, the agency will review the EUA request as expeditiously as possible using its thorough and science-based approach, and expects this evaluation to take a matter of weeks as opposed to months."
Pfizer said it submitted initial data to the agency last week. It said the vaccine showed a favorable safety profile and elicited robust neutralizing antibody responses. The company said the results were comparable to those in a previous study in people 16 to 25 years old. The vaccine for kids 5 to 11 was given at a third of the dose used in the older age group.
The vaccine would be given in two doses, three weeks apart, according to the company.
The news prompted varying views from parents contemplating what steps they would take if the vaccine moved forward.
"I would not have them take it initially," said Ivory McGee Perry. "I think maybe after a year, if other parents want to do that, I would wait and see if there are any side effects or long-term effects, you know, after a year, then maybe I would have my children vaccinated."
Another parent told us of a different plan.
"I'm excited that my youngest can finally get protected. Everybody else in the house is and he is just that missing link," said Vanessa Blaszczyk, adding concern about protecting others with risk factors.
Pediatricians are encouraging parents to talk to their pediatricians or doctors.
"We in the medical community are extremely confident that these vaccines are safe and are effective and we are going to convey that to our parents,” said Dr. Lisa Gwynn.
Gwynn is the president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and an associate professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"They've gone through a lot this pandemic," Gwynn said. "For them to be able to go to school, to remain in school, to not have to be quarantined — that's a huge quality-of-life issue for our children, so this vaccine is one step closer in getting to that goal."
Other doctors also pointed to school.
"What that means is almost every kid that goes to school now has the opportunity to protect themselves," said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of infectious disease and immunology for Wolfson Children's Hospital in Florida. "It's exciting news. It's something we've all been waiting for for quite a while now."
For parents, another doctor offered this:
"My message to them is: We have really good data from adults. We have 6.4 billion people in the world who have been vaccinated with very, very few adverse events and I feel like, with kids, that probably will be even less based on what I know about vaccines,” said Dr. Katie Taylor with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Louisiana.