Elementary school–age children may soon be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German biotech company partner BioNTech reported September 20 that a low dose of their mRNA vaccine is safe for children.
There are hints that the vaccine also protects against the coronavirus. The 10-microgram shots given to kids aged 5- to 11-years-old is a third of the dose given to people 12 and older. Yet after getting two shots 21 days apart, the younger kids produced levels of protective antibodies comparable to the levels made by 16- to 25-year-olds given two full doses. The companies, which shared the early results via a news release, did not report any data on protection against infection, hospitalization or death from the virus.
Pfizer indicated that it will soon seek emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use of the vaccine in 5- to 11-year-olds. The news comes as cases of COVID-19 among children remain at their highest levels since the pandemic began, mostly driven by infections with delta variant. In the United States, more than 243,000 children were diagnosed with the disease in the week ending September 9, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. While COVID-19 remains a mild disease for most who become infected, a total of 516 children have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, including 100 who died since August 4 (SN: 8/9/21).