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Ask Dr. Nandi: COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5 could be just weeks away

Posted at 4:33 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 22:07:24-04

(WXYZ) — Children under 5 are the only age group not yet eligible for COVID-19 shots. But that may soon change.

I’ve been keeping a close eye on both Pfizer and Moderna’s clinical vaccine trials concerning young children. And that’s because my whole family is vaccinated except for my youngest son. He’s one of the 18 million children that are not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. But, the wait may soon be over.

Moderna expects to release data soon, regarding its clinical trials for children ages 2 to 5. If all looks good, they’ll seek emergency use authorization from the FDA straightaway.

The company went with two shots – each dose is a quarter of the strength that adults receive. Moderna’s dosage amount is higher than what Pfizer went with for their children’s clinical trials.

Each shot of Pfizer’s vaccine is one-tenth of what adolescents are currently getting. And Pfizer had to move forward with a three-dose series. That’s primarily because of omicron.

Early data showed Pfizer’s vaccine was not producing a good immune response - it was not providing adequate protection against symptomatic infection from the omicron variant. So now we’re waiting on data from the third dose – which is expected in April. If all goes well - and three shots do the trick - Pfizer could have a vaccine sometime in May for children under 5.

I know parents are confused, especially since Florida’s Surgeon General has said healthy children do not need to be immunized. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics has said that recommendation was irresponsible. And that’s because children can die from COVID.

So far, at least 400 under the age of 4 have. And while that may not seem like a lot, those families are crushed. I would not want to be one of them.

I personally know many families who want to protect their kids - who want their children vaccinated. It doesn’t matter that many children do not experience severe illness. It still happens.

One study found 15 children out of every 100,000 under the age of 5 needed to be hospitalized when cases of omicron were peaking. And just because our case numbers are now low, that doesn’t mean we won’t see another surge again.

I wish I could say with 100% certainty that the risk is low. But this virus is unpredictable. We could very well see another surge due to omicron's BA.2 subvariant. Plus, it’s quite possible we’ll see higher cases come fall or winter - a time when viruses thrive. So to me, the best protection is to get vaccinated against COVID-19. And that includes vaccines for our youngest children.

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