NOBLE COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — On Monday, Pfizer said its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it will soon seek U.S. authorization for the age group.
The trial Pfizer conducted included 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11 and used a two-dose regimen. The vaccine’s dosage was about a third of what is given to adults.
“Children are different,” said Dr. Terry Gaff, Noble County’s Health Commissioner. “Their physiology and their size are significantly different from adults and consequently, it’s always important to try to adjust medications and treatments to the children in a way that will make them have the best response possible.”
The kid’s dosage will cause similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience. The study isn’t large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as the heart inflammation.
Gaff said if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics evaluates the data and says the vaccine appears to be effective and safe, he certainly recommends youngsters get their shots.
“I believe that the vaccine is likely to be a better choice than natural immunity,” Gaff said. “Prevention is better than than treatment. We really don’t have a very effective treatment for people who get seriously ill with this virus, and if we can prevent small children from getting the virus and disease, it’s also possible that we would then minimize the possibility that can be spread to older people.”
Despite the lower dosage, the Pfizer said the children used in the trial experienced a similar antibody response compared to participants aged 16-25.
This announcement comes at a time when kids are back in school and the surging delta variant is causing a jump in pediatric infections. The most recent American Academy of Pediatrics report shows the second highest number of childhood COVID cases per week since the pandemic began.
Therefore, Gaff said Pfizer’s announcement is “great news” for schools.
“We’ve been trying to protect children in the less than 12 age category with mitigation protocols, masks and distancing and hygiene and and so forth,” Gaff said. “Whereas a vaccine gives them an extra added opportunity to develop an immune response without actually getting the disease.”
However, some Hoosiers aren’t sold on the vaccine’s safety.
“My grandkids will not be getting the vaccine, and neither will I,” said Steve Weireuch, a grandparent of three.
One parent said she thinks the studies were completed too soon.
“Until there’s some long-term studies, I’m not really sure how any of the companies can claim that they’re safe, because there’s no evidence that points to that,” said Leslie Conley. “Considering the fact that children have like a 99.7% chance of being fine if they were to contract COVID, the risk to benefit ratio of getting the vaccine just isn’t there for me.”
It is still too early to know whether or not the vaccine would be mandated in schools if it were to be approved, according to Gaff.
The vaccine likely will not be approved for children ages 5-11 until late October.