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COVID vaccine approval sought for kids ages 5 to 11

While one-quarter of parents polled said they would get their kids vaccinated "right away," another quarter said they would "definitely not" get it for their kids

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The COVID vaccine could be made available to kids as young as 5 years old in a matter of weeks. Pfizer is seeking emergency authorization of its COVID vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, proposing to use one-third of the dosage now given to those twelve and older.

Results from recent clinical trials showed that kids 5 to 11 had strong immune responses with minimal side effects, according to Pfizer

"This is very exciting. We have been waiting for this for months," said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children's Hospital and UC San Diego.

He said that Pfizer's announcement, that it is ready to seek emergency use authorization for its COVID vaccine for 5 to 11 year-olds, should be encouraging news for parents.

"This is being looked at very carefully, very deliberately," Dr. Sawyer told News 8. "No shortcuts are being taken."

The federal approval process has been expedited, and a decision could come as soon as Halloween.

"If the FDA looks at this data and feels confident that it demonstrates that this vaccine is safe and effective for children 5 to 11, you could have a vaccine in a month to six weeks," said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner who now sits on Pfizer's board of directors. 

Before getting to that step, an FDA advisory committee will review the clinical trial information for the FDA to approve, and then another independent committee will review safety information for the CDC to issue guidance before it's ultimately given to the public.

"We as a family decided to try to move forward," said Dr. Richard Chung, who enrolled his two boys in Pfizer's clinical trial for this vaccine. "If they wanted to rush it, they could have. But this shows that that rigor is not lacking."

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 25% of parents of children ages 5 to 11 would vaccinate their kids "right away" once a vaccine is authorized; 40% would "wait and see;" while another 25% would "definitely not" have their kids vaccinated.

"I would not be getting any of my kids an emergency use authorization vaccine," said Sharon McKeeman is founder of Let Them Breathe, a nonprofit which opposes masks in schools. It has formed an initiative called "Let Them Choose" when it comes to parents vaccinating their kids.

"This is moving very quickly and especially in the youngest and most vulnerable, we want to see long-term studies, and ultimately there needs to be choice," McKeeman told News 8. "Families need to be able to make medical decisions themselves."

Pfizer is also looking at the efficacy of a COVID vaccine for babies as young as six months and is expected to release clinical data on that as soon as late October. 

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