COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged 5 to 11 could be available by early next month amid promising study data released by Pfizer and BioNTech, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, made the comments in an interview with ABC’s This Week, shortly after regulators at the Food and Drug Administration said the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab for kids largely outweighed the risks of potential side effects, a key finding that may foreshadow an emergency use authorization in the coming days.
“If all goes well, and we get the regulatory approval and the recommendation from the CDC, it’s entirely possible if not very likely that vaccines will be available for children from 5 to 11 within the first week or two of November,” Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told the program. He later added that he didn’t want to preempt any decision by the FDA, but “if you look at the data that’s been made public, the data look good.”
The timetable could see many American children vaccinated by the end of the year. There are about 28 million kids that would be eligible for a jab if the Pfizer vaccine is approved for emergency use.
His comments come on the heels of data from Pfizer and BioNTech showing child-sized doses of its coronavirus vaccine appear to be safe and highly effective in 5- to 11-year-olds. Pfizer said data showed a nearly 91% effectiveness among trial participants that received a one-third sized dose of its vaccine. If the shots are ultimately approved by the FDA it would be a key milestone in the nation’s effort to end the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The most common side effects echo those in older children and adults: fatigue, headache, muscle pain and chills.
A panel of outside advisers is scheduled to weigh in on the Pfizer jabs on Tuesday. The FDA typically follows the body’s advice, but it’s not required to do so, Reuters notes.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said Sunday she was hopeful her agency could act quickly following FDA approval in hopes of getting kids inoculated before the holidays.
“After they (FDA) are able to review all the science and conduct the regulatory action and the CDC will meet, and if all of that goes smoothly … we will act quickly,” she told Fox News Sunday. “We know how many parents are interested in getting their children between 5 and 11 vaccinated and we intend to act as quickly as we can.”
Many Americans have been jabbed with one of the three vaccines available to prevent severe illness and death associated with COVID-19, but no inoculation has been approved for young kids. Full-strength doses of the Pfizer vaccine are available for children 12 and older.