GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11, which West Michigan doctors say this is a crucial step in the path toward an Emergency Use Authorization from the federal government.
Dr. Andrew Jameson, the division chief of infectious diseases with Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, said approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is likely near.
“Kids are making up almost 30% of all the new COVID cases in the country,” Jameson said.
While he said the majority of kids are able to survive the disease, it could lead to additional conditions or complications — like multi-inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, and amplifies community spread.
“The problem is they’re infecting people in their lives. They’re infecting teachers, they’re infecting other adults in their families and they’re really helping drive this forward,” he said. “And a fraction of kids are exposed to something like MIS-C, which is just a devastating inflammatory condition.”
Pfizer said using a third of the adult dose for kids age 5 to 11 just as effective as the full dose for adults.
Ottawa County Deputy Health Officer Marcia Mansaray said the development is significant.
“It’s exciting because I know there’s a lot of parents out there who’ve been waiting for this because their kids are in school now, they’re going to be entering activities,” Mansaray said.
Many county health orders are in part tied to vaccine availability among children, so FDA authorization could affect mask orders for schools.
The department says its countywide data during the current surge clearly shows the vaccine is working.
“Ottawa County is fairly well vaccinated. (The metrics are) going up much more slowly. We used to see these really steep upward trends,” Mansaray said.
Experts urge parents who may be hesitant to talk to their child’s doctor and assured them that while the process is moving quickly, it is not being rushed.
“We have more data about this than we have any other treatment we give anybody for almost any disease and so this has been an incredibly transparent and thorough process,” Jameson said.
Some doctors think the shot could be given to the 5 to 11 age group starting in the end of October or early November, if the process moves forward as expected.