COVID-19 vaccine trials begin for children 6 months to 11 years old

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Younger kids could get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as this fall. Pfizer and Biontech expand vaccine trials for people ages six months to eleven years.

First News at Nine’s Carla Rogner spoke with health officials to answer some of the many questions parents may have on whether a vaccine is right for their kids.

Kicking COVID-19 to the curb will require more people, including kids, getting vaccinated.

Pfizer has begun vaccine trials for kids ages six months through 11 years old.

UW Health Pediatrician and immunization expert Dr. James Conway is optimistic about the news.

“We did a really good job at social distancing and protecting kids but now as society is opening and schools are opening, what we are seeing is the burden of the disease is starting to be in those younger age groups because the older age groups are largely immunized now,” Dr. Conway said.

However even the vaccine is authorized, some parents like Andrea Sheridan of Minneapolis are still hesitant to vaccinate their young kids.

“I think that we will probably wait a little bit before we vaccinate our children. My husband and I are vaccinated already but we are a little hesitant with the kids just because it is so new and they haven’t done a lot of research yet about how it affects children,” Sheridan said.

Dr. Conway says the vaccine trial is not as rushed as it may seem.

“I think what we have seen is really new efficiency, and this is going to be the new normal for vaccines,” he said. “This is carefully done, this is very thoughtful and we have got a great system to make sure we balance the things we need to balance but most importantly to make sure we can get out of this pandemic.”

As for long term effects of the vaccine, Dr. Conway says it would be realized before the trial ends.

“There has never been any kind of a side effect from a vaccine that showed up any time more than a couple of months after a vaccine was given,” he said.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman encouraged parents to trust the science and ask questions to their children’s’ doctors when it comes time to making a decision whether to get the vaccine.

“When the FDA is looking at trials they really do pay close attention, make sure they have a good sample size and make sure they are not seeing a large reaction before it is approved,” she said.

If the trial continues as planned, Pfizer hopes to seek Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine in kids ages 5 to 11 in September or October and soon after for kids ages 6 months to 5. In the trial, younger kids will get a lower dose of the vaccine than those 12 and older.

Pfizer’s vaccine is currently the only one available to people ages 12 to 18. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can only be administered to people ages 18 and older.

Health experts say kids should continue to practice basic COVID-19 safety precautions until they can get vaccinated. That includes wearing a mask and social distancing.

In Eau Claire Carla Rogner First News at Nine.

Pfizer is currently the only vaccine available for kids ages 12 to 18.

The other two vaccines, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are only available for people 18 and older.

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