NYC prepares for approval of COVID vaccine for younger kids

Pfizer has formally asked the FDA to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for use in younger children — ages 5 to 11. That means New York City health officials and families are preparing for when and if the drugmaker gets the green light. 

"I'll be the first in line to get my daughter vaccinated, very focused on keeping her healthy and keeping this spread down," public school mom Susie Gould said. 

She said she won't hesitate to get her 9-year-old daughter Maddie the COVID shot. Other parents we spoke with are of different mindsets. Jonathan Reed is on board for his two kids but would want to wait it out a bit.

"I'm always of the mindset that I don't want to be the first in line but I also want to be in a situation where I can protect the children, protect those who are around me," Reed said. "Certainly I would be on board with it — I would just be in the middle of the line."

Parents are now waiting for a final decision after Pfizer asked the U.S. government on Thursday to allow emergency use authorization of its COVID vaccine in kids ages 5 to 11. This age group would receive a smaller dose than what teens and adults are getting.

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"Pfizer has just submitted its application but we need to review the data and detail, specifically the data that's going to be issued regarding the dosing for the vaccine," said Dr. Jay Varma, the city's senior adviser for public health. 

City health authorities are ready for the shots but need to do research and find out if a lower dose means different packaging or drawing less of the vaccine in the vial. 

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We also spoke with an infectious disease doctor with Mount Sinai, who believes this is an important next step in fighting the pandemic. Although kids, in general, are at a lower risk of severe illness or death, at least 520 children in the U.S. have died from COVID so far, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"There has been a lot of hospitalizations and critical illnesses in children in the recent delta wave and the best really is that we try to prevent that from happening," Dr. Waleed Javaid said. "Even if people with the vaccination get infected, we have seen it is a lot milder in the majority of cases."

The FDA's independent panel of experts is set to publicly debate the evidence at the end of the month. If the panel gives the green light, shots for young kids could begin in just a matter of weeks.

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