KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Week after week, more children are getting COVID-19, but leading health experts say there could be a light at the end of the tunnel. Pfizer and Bio-n-Tech are expected to seek approval of their coronavirus vaccine for children as young as 5 within the next couple of weeks.
Right now, kids 12 and older can get the vaccine, but medical officials expect the shot for kids 5 to 11 to roll out by October 31.
According to the FDA, clinical trials are still underway, but once the relevant portion is complete, it will work with the manufacturers to analyze the data. Then, the manufacturer can submit for emergency use authorization. After that the FDA will evaluate benefits and risks. A process they said could take just a matter of weeks.
According to Bill Smith, MD with AMR Knoxville, in the face of the Delta variant, everyday counts. "The Delta variant is more infectious in younger children than say the initial Wuhan one was,” he said. "Absolutely the younger children need to be vaccinated once we've determined that it's safe and it's available."
Medical experts said early diagnosis is crucial, and better yet, prevention. "What we're really trying to do with these vaccines, is to prevent serious illness and severe hospitalizations and ultimately death.”
The side effects are expected to be similar Dr. Smith said. "For the younger children should be very much the same as what we see in older children and adults."
Knox County parent Eric Moore said his 13-year-old son got the shot as soon as it became available to him. "It was quick, painless, you know they didn't really have symptoms. For me getting vaccinated, I had a sore arm a couple day. They didn't really even seem to have that," he said.
He said he also found evidence his son was exposed to the virus. "That's been a really important indicator that both it was safe and effective for him. Where other people were getting it, he's managed to evade it," Moore said.
While the kid’s vaccine is the same as the adult shot, the dose would be lower. The FDA has made it clear parents need to wait for the formal authorization.