LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– Pfizer and partner BioNTech have asked U.S. health regulators to approve emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children aged from 5 to 11, Pfizer confirmed Thursday.
At this time, only children as young as 12 are able to get the Pfizer vaccine.
Some parents in Arkansas say this is something they’ve waited on for a while.
“Basically we just want them to be protected,” said Jeff Anderson.
Anderson says as soon as the vaccine becomes readily available for those under the age of 12, they plan on vaccinating their 7-year-old son.
“We are excited that they are finally moving the process forward,” said Anderson.
An emergency use authorization is when regulators allow shots to be given to certain people while studies of safety and effectiveness are ongoing. Instead of the usual requirement of “substantial evidence” of safety and effectiveness for approval, the FDA can allow products onto the market as long as their benefits are likely to outweigh their risks. It has already used its emergency powers to authorize hundreds of coronavirus tests and a handful of treatments during the pandemic.
“We want to get back to normal and we know this is a way to get there,” said Jessica Snowden, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Snowden says opening the vaccine to younger children will help reduce the number of sick patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. She says she has heard from parents who are concerned to vaccinate their children, due to how quickly it was released to the public. However; Snowden says the vaccine is the best way to protect kids against the virus.
She added that the majority of children on ventilators at ACH are unvaccinated.
“None of us want to be in the situation we were in this summer with lots and lots of kids in the hospital again if we can avoid it,” said Snowden.
A second U.S. vaccine maker, Moderna, also is studying its shots in elementary school-aged children. Pfizer and Moderna are studying even younger tots as well, down to 6 months old. Results are expected later in the year.