Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is seeking COVID-19 vaccine authorization from the federal government to allow administration of its shots to children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.
There are approximately 28 million children within the target age group living in the US, according to a report from the Associated Press. Inoculations for them could begin in a matter of weeks, should the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clear the request.
A public debate on approving the shots will take place between a panel of independent experts, which serves the FDA in an advisory capacity. It is set for three weeks from today, on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2021.
Company research suggests using a lower dosage for younger populations, approximately 1/3 of the amount of vaccine now administered to adults. No serious side effects were reported in 2,268 test participants between the ages of 5-11 who received that amount of vaccine, according to the AP report.
The FDA has already cleared the Pfizer shot for use among children ages 12-17, and Pfizer’s is the only US-authorized vaccine cleared for use as a booster immunization to high-risk demographics.
The AP added that Moderna is currently navigating the approval process for vaccine authorization in the 12-17 age group, and is conducting voluntary testing on younger populations.
The incidence of death or hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection decreases exponentially with age. However, with most public school students in the US back to in-person instruction this fall, concerns about transmission to more vulnerable populations through children reman.
Beyond that, more than 500 children have died as a result of COVID-related illness, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.