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Pfizer could seek emergency vaccine approval for younger children this month

Children make up 25% of new COVID-19 cases.

SAN DIEGO — Children from ages five to 11 years old could be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by the end of October. The former FDA Commissioner said Pfizer may file for emergency approval with the FDA this month.  

News 8's LaMonica Peters talked to a local pediatrician about what this means for families with young children and which company could have a vaccine ready next.  

As children head back to in-person learning this school year, Pfizer says it’s preparing to get emergency vaccine approval for younger kids, who are just as vulnerable to the infection as anyone else.

“They don’t get severe disease as often as adults do but we’ve had over 400 deaths in the United States in that age group from COVID. So, we need to interrupt that transmission,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, who works at Rady Children’s Hospital and UCSD Health. 

Pfizer says it’s been conducting two-shot, vaccine trials on children two years and older but for now, it will seek emergency approval for kids ages five to 11. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Sawyer says the vaccine is key to stopping the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.  

“Even if they don’t get sick, they’re part of the cycle that transmits the infection to others,” said Dr. Sawyer. 

Children still make up 25% of new COVID-19 cases. Dr. Sawyer believes the coronavirus vaccine will eventually be required with other vaccines for children in public schools. He also said it may be necessary for everyone to get the vaccine on a yearly basis.

“The development of these variants is very similar to what we deal with, with Influenza every year. The virus changes over time and we have to update the vaccine so that it keeps up with the virus. Everybody knows we get a flu shot every year. It’s pretty likely that we’re going to at least have to get regular COVID vaccines. Maybe not every year but pretty frequently,” Dr. Sawyer said.

Dr. Sawyer said he doesn’t expect Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to have an approved vaccine for younger children until next year but he says anyone eligible to get vaccinated, should.

“This virus continues to spread. It continues to change. It’s getting worse with time. The best thing we can do is get vaccinated to prevent that from happening,” Dr. Sawyer said. 

Dr. Sawyer said the approval process usually takes about six to eight weeks, so he thinks the vaccine for younger children will most likely be ready by December.  

WATCH RELATED: San Diego Unified schools will not have vaccine mandate yet 

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