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A vaccine for young kids would boost the fight against COVID-19, medical professionals say

Pfizer has submitted its vaccine data for young kids to the FDA
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 7:55 PM CST
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Young kids at Ochsner Health.
Young kids at Ochsner Health.(Ochsner Health System)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Health care professionals say if federal agencies soon authorize Pfizer’s vaccine for kids as young as 6 months old that would be a big boost in combatting COVID-19. Still, it is unclear whether some younger kids would get more than two shots.

The virus has shown that it targets the young and the old.

Dr. Mark Kline, Physician-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital New Orleans provided perspective.

“In this latest surge, children under the age of 5 have been hospitalized at the same rate as adults between 18 and 49 years of age, that’s just completely unacceptable,” said Kline.

This week, Pfizer asked the FDA to authorize its vaccine for kids under age 5, which is the only age group not yet eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 infection.

Matthew Malachowski, PharmD, is a system director at Ochsner Health.

“We have a lot of great physicians that have been working in this investigational drug study, we know that the vaccine is safe and effective,” said Malachowski.

Ochsner Health has been part of the clinical trials for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines.

“The dose right now that has been studied is 3 micrograms for patients 6 months to 4 years of age. The dose for that 5-to-12-year-old cohort is 10 micrograms and following the Pfizer track record it would be two doses of 3 micrograms, but that dosing schedule is going to continue to evolve,” said Malachowski.

Kline has looked at the data and likes what he has seen.

“What I’ve seen so far of the data looks good, it may well be that these very young children are going to require three doses, that remains to be seen but that will all sort itself out over time. Right now, the FDA is going to be looking at the data for a two-shot regimen,” Kline.

A child’s weight does not determine the dosage of the vaccine.

“It is not a weight-based dosing which is good, but we will get more information once the FDA and the CDC/ACIP come out with their recommendations,” Malachowski stated.

In clinical trials, two doses of the lower dose vaccine were shown to be strong enough for babies but not preschoolers in early testing. Pfizer is now testing a third shot and data from that is expected to be released in late March.

They say a vaccine for younger children is critical in driving down COVID-19 infections.

“Being able to vaccinate the entire family I think is going to help parents and schools and children to make sure that every member of the household is safe,” said Malachowski.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 3 in 10 parents of kids under age 5 say they will get their child vaccinated once a vaccine for that age group is approved.

Clearly, some parents are still hesitant.

Kline was asked what advice he has for parents who are hesitant about getting their kids vaccinated against the coronavirus which caused COVID-19 infection.

“Well, I understand the skepticism and the hesitancy some parents feel. We all want to protect our children, but these vaccines have been tested very thoroughly in every age group, they’ve proved to be very safe,” said Kline.

Malachowski will have his younger child vaccinated if the vaccine authorization is given. “My wife and I have discussed it and that is our plan,” he said.

The FDA’s decision on authorizing the vaccine for younger kids could come within a month. The CDC would also have to weigh in on the vaccine.

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