HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Pfizer says it expects to file safety and efficacy data for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 in early October, and for those as young as 6 months old in the weeks after.
Doctors say it is a critical next step in protecting against the virus.
“We have seen very, very sick patients, pediatric patients, in our hospital,” said Dr. Hanadys Ale, a pediatric immunologist at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, where on Wednesday they had 15 patients fighting COVID-19. “If we can save one child of not getting severe COVID and not succumbing to COVID, I think we have done something positive, something important.”
And that’s not just coming from a doctor and expert, but from a mom who says she believes in vaccines. So much so she has enrolled her 1-year-old son in vaccine clinical trials.
“I got vaccinated myself,” Ale said. “He was newborn when I got the vaccine, and I breastfed him [so] that my antibodies are going to pass to him.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, children were not as affected as adults, often asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.
But said says the delta variant has changed that, and kids are getting sicker.
COVID cases among kids in the United States jumped 240% in just the past six weeks.
In Florida, the age group with the most new COVID-19 cases last week was the under-12 population that is ineligible to be vaccinated. The state said that 17,165 children under 12 became infected with the virus from Sept. 3-9.
So why are ages 5 to 11 the next step?
“It’s sort of a group that has more or less the same physiology,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease expert at Florida International University.
She says including a new age group means a higher percentage vaccinated, making it harder for the virus to spread, or worse yet, mutate into a deadlier form.
It could also lead to fewer COVID-19 cases in schools.
“Getting those individuals vaccinated will facilitate everything else,” Marty said.
WATCH MORE: Dr. Hanadys Ale addresses frequently asked questions she gets from parents regarding COVID vaccines
WATCH MORE: Dr. Aileen Marty discusses messenger RNA vaccines in greater detail