Children won’t be able to immediately receive Pfizer’s emergency use COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 6:05 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Amid promising news about a COVID-19 vaccine coming soon, those who can get it does not include children, just yet.

The ‘Emergency Use Authorization’ Pfizer is hoping to get from the FDA soon, is only for adults.

The company only used adults in its clinical trials up until now. Just last month, Pfizer added children ages 12 and up to its study.

Dr. Donald Beno, a pediatrician with Aurora BayCare Medical Center, said the delay for kids to be included in the clinical trial is two-fold. He said kids, unlike adults, are still growing.

“Their bodies, in general, at different ages will react differently to vaccines, so small children will act differently than adolescents and they will act differently than adults,” said Dr. Beno.

Plus, Dr. Beno said kids can’t choose whether to participate.

“A child, especially a young child, they are not going to be able to do say, ‘I understand the risks and the benefits, and I want to proceed with this study,’ so their parents would have to give consent for them,” said Dr. Beno. “And many parents would say, ‘Until we know that there is a safety factor, we’re not going to be comfortable’, and I totally understand that.”

However, now that an adult vaccine is so close to getting the green light from the FDA, children are now being included in the vaccine study.

“Certainly, there are more studies that need to be done on younger children because little people are not just little adults, so they have to go back and make sure that not only is it effective, not only does it protect people, but also is it safe and is there any side effect profile that’s different for kids and for adults,” said Dr. Beno.

Pregnant women have also been excluded from the vaccine trials, which is normal said Dr. Beno.

“Certainly, pregnant women are going to be excluded because they have a growing brain within them. Their infant is growing and that changes everything. So, most vaccines are not recommended during pregnancy, with very few exceptions,” said Dr. Beno.

When it comes to the vaccine, Dr. Beno said the one eventually approved for kids, will likely be the same one approved for adults, but the dosage may change.

“Some vaccines on the market get different doses based on age,” said Dr. Beno. “Some on the market actually give the elderly more doses than younger people, so it’s totally dependent upon the vaccine and how well it works and how well it’s tolerated by children to really tell us what’s the next step.”

Although kids won’t be involved in the initial vaccine rollout, Dr. Beno said it’s still a step in the right direction to get kids back to school safely.

“We have to remember the adults are ones that are probably giving their children the illness. So if we protect the adults that will help the children and prevent them from being exposed,” said Dr. Beno. “Children, thankfully with the illness are fairly low risk. It doesn’t mean that some kids don’t have problems with COVID, but they have fewer problems per capita than the adults and the elderly do....and they can still spread it.”

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