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COVID-19 vaccine safe for children ages 5-11, Pfizer says

South Florida pediatricians discuss what it would mean for children
The Moderna COVID vaccine clinical trial is for children under the age of 12, who are then broken down into three age groups: 6-11 years old, 2-5 years old and six to 20 months old.
Posted at 3:23 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 00:35:21-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Safe and effective was the message from Pfizer on its vaccine trial for children ages 5 to 11 years old.

Pfizer said it plans to submit its data to the U.S. Food and Drug administration soon and then it could be weeks before we see an emergency use authorization.

A Palm Beach County parent whose 6-year-old is currently participating in the Moderna vaccine trial for younger children said she jumped at the opportunity of getting her daughter vaccinated as soon as possible.

"She has a teddy bear that looks like a hero. It's got a mask and a cape," said Dr. Carrie Firestone, a pediatric gastroenterologist.

Wearing her "Everyone Can Be A Hero" T-shirt, Firestone's 6-year-old daughter had a discussion with her mom about participating in the Moderna vaccine trial.

"I told her we were going to meet with some doctors, that we are working on keep everybody safe and she said, 'Well, I want to keep everyone safe, too,'" said Firestone.

Firestone still doesn't know if her daughter received the actual vaccine or placebo. This week, when she goes in for her second shot, she'll be looking out for symptoms.

"If this is one thing I can do, that I know will give her an extra layer of protection, I want her to have it," added Firestone.

Firestone's understanding is that Moderna's trial is only a few weeks behind Pfizer's, which announced that its trial is showing the vaccine is safe and effective for children 5 to 11.

"Effective meaning that it's giving the body the same immune response that it needs to protect itself against hospitalization and death from coronavirus at those same levels as the 12 and older at the higher dose," said Dr. Shannon Fox-Levine with Palm Beach Pediatrics.

The vaccine dose for younger children is less, as Fox-Levine expects it will be with the even younger children.

"The 2- to 5-year-olds will likely have a different dose than the less than 2 and, again, we're familiar with this with other vaccines that we give like flu vaccine," said Fox.

Pfizer believes the vaccine could have emergency use authorization and be available for children 5 to 11 by Halloween.

According to 2020 data presented by National Kids Count, that would mean about 1.7 million more children in Florida would be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I know people talk about guinea pigs. That's not my goal here," said Firestone. "But if the emergency use authorization came out next week, we would have jumped at the opportunity to get our children vaccinated."

Moderna launched its vaccine trial for children 6 to 11 in August. Authorization for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for teens 12 to 17 is still pending in the U.S.