A smaller dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine safely triggers a strong immune response in children as young as 5, the company announced Monday morning.
“Over the past nine months, hundreds of millions of people ages 12 and older from around the world have received our COVID-19 vaccine. We are eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorization, especially as we track the spread of the Delta variant and the substantial threat it poses to children,” Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla says in a statement.
“Since July, pediatric cases of COVID-19 have risen by about 240 percent in the U.S. — underscoring the public health need for vaccination,” Bourla adds. “These trial results provide a strong foundation for seeking authorization of our vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, and we plan to submit them to the FDA and other regulators with urgency.”
The finding, which will likely come as welcome news to many parents and pediatricians, is a crucial step toward Pfizer’s two-shot regimen becoming available for younger school-aged children as early as Halloween, the Washington Post reports. The pediatric dose used in the trial was one-third the strength of the adult shots.
With coronavirus cases soaring among children as the school year gets underway, pediatricians have been flooded with requests to bend the rules and give children a shot now, according to the Post.
The new data seems likely to intensify that pressure, even though Pfizer’s existing vaccine is triple the dose tested in the trial.
“No one should really be freelancing — they should wait for the appropriate approval and recommendations to decide how best to manage their own children’s circumstances,” William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, tells the Post. He explains that younger children tend to have more “exuberant” immune responses to vaccines than older people do.
“Nature has equipped us, particularly when we are young, to respond very well to an assortment of things we will encounter in nature — and we will use vaccines to