CHICAGO — Many parents and children are eagerly awaiting news from vaccine manufacturers and the Food and Drug Administration on progress toward authorizing vaccines for children younger than 12.
Though children are generally less affected by COVID-19, they can still be vectors to transmit the virus in the community. They are key for communities to reach high rates of inoculation, especially as vaccine hesitancy among adults proliferates. Small numbers of children have also become sick with multisystem inflammatory syndrome.
Now that schools are open, the virus could be more likely to spread. Chicago Public Schools reported nearly 500 cases of the COVID-19 virus in the first three weeks of school. And the incoming cooler weather has some parents and children looking ahead with trepidation to another pent-up winter.
“My daughter asked me if I could bring her home a shot the other day,” said Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, assistant professor in pediatric infectious diseases at Northwestern University and physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Though 6 and wary of needles, her daughter is ready for a return to normal, Heald-Sargent said.
Here’s what you need to know about the current status of vaccines for children:
—When might the vaccine be approved for children 5 to 11?
Pfizer has said it plans to present its trial data for children 5 to 11 to the FDA by the end of the month. As it has for the older age groups, the drug company will ask the agency for emergency use authorization.
After that, the FDA will review the material and make a decision about authorization. Based on the timelines for authorization for other age groups, experts say, it could take about a month for the FDA to make a decision, meaning kids could be authorized by the end of October or early November.
“If they are happy with the data, a month is probably the amount of time it takes,” said Dr. Bessey Geevarghese, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.