RHHD gears up for possible rollout as Pfizer vaccine appears effective in kids under 5

A major step towards getting young children, toddlers, and infants vaccinated against COVID-19 as the FDA says the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective in child
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 7:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A major step towards getting young children, toddlers and infants vaccinated against COVID-19 as the FDA says the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective in children under 5.

This comes ahead of a meeting on Wednesday when a panel of experts will vote on whether to recommend the shots.

Richmond-Henrico Health Districts are hopeful it will be approved for emergency use, meaning rollout could kick off as soon as next week.

“These are the tools that we’ve been using to help us get back to normal, and it’s just that last group of folks who we needed to be able to offer this to,” RHHD Director Dr. Melissa Viray said.

Pfizer’s vaccine for this age group would be distributed as a three-shot series.

The FDA says it appeared 80% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. However, that calculation was based on just 10 cases diagnosed among study participants.

Moderna’s vaccine for children under five was also up for review, but new data shows the vaccine is just 36% effective against symptomatic disease for children 2-5 and 50% for kids aged 6 months through 23 months.

Even with a Pfizer vaccine that is 80% effective, doctors are prepared to have some hesitant parents.

“We did see much less uptake in our five-to-elevens across the board, but in particular, I continue to be very concerned for our communities of color and that we see less uptake for our children,” Dr. Viray said.

While the vast majority of people 12 and older have been vaccinated, less than half of 5 to 11-year-olds have gotten a shot.

“We are seeing folks who are being infected and have some degree of natural immunity, but we also need to rely on vaccination very strongly, because that’s where we can prevent adverse illness events,” Dr. Viray said.

Doctors want to help protect this age group, especially with the uncertainty of variants.

At Omicron’s peak in Virginia this past January, over 6,000 kids 4-and-under got COVID, with 39 of them hospitalized.

“I’m really hoping that we will see more willingness on behalf of parents to engage in daycare, to engage in playdates, to feel more comfort with sending their youngest to things over the summer, or to travel with their kids over the summer,” Dr. Viray said.

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