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Pfizer: COVID vaccine safe, effective for young kids

Pfizer's latest clinical trial found a smaller dose of the vaccine was effective for kids ages ages 5 to 11.

A vaccine could hit the marketplace for kids ages 5 to 11 sooner than expected. Pfizer announced on Monday that their latest clinical vaccine trial proved that the vaccine is safe and appears to "generate a robust immune response."

Pfizer and BioNTech tested a smaller dose - about a third of the dosage used for kids and adults ages twelve and up. After antibodies were measured, Pfizer found the vaccine is not only safe and effective for younger kids, but it appears to generate a robust immune response - based on data that included over 2,200 kids.  

Right now, a Pfizer vaccine has been cleared by the FDA and is on the market for kids ages twelve and up. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have only been authorized for adults.

Dr. Nancy Nielsen is the Senior Associate Dean for Health Policy at the University at Buffalo and says that these findings could not come at a better time, especially given the record-high number of positive pediatric cases and packed ICU's state to state. 

"It was a smaller dose, but the kids got an immune response that was every bit as good as that achieved with teenagers and young adults," Dr. Nielsen says. "So this is really very good news."

But not everyone feels as confident. 

John Walker, his wife, and his 9-year-old son live in Cheektowaga. Walker says, while he and his wife both had COVID and are now vaccinated, he's very hesitant to get this son vaccinated. 

"After him being exposed to us for some time and not catching COVID, it's just not a concern for me right now," Walker says. "I don't know what they could do to make me feel very comfortable with it.

Walker is certainly not alone when it comes to vaccine hesitancy, especially as it pertains to kids. 

"I do understand that children are catching it, it's just not as huge of a concern for me as the vaccine is and his allergies," Walker expresses. 

But medical experts, including Dr. Nielsen, say it's important to make sure young kids are vaccinated and stay out of the hospital, especially with a majority of school districts returning to in-person learning. 

"We don't want more kids ending up in the hospital or in the ICU. And we have certainly seen that across the country. Over 5 million kids have gotten this infection and the rates are rising dramatically," Dr. Nielsen says. "So this is going to keep, it looks like, kids out of the hospital and ICU and that's great news."

Pfizer says they plan to submit data to the FDA by the end of the month.