New push to get the vaccine authorized for kids 5 to 11 as soon as October

MEMPHIS, TENN. — Week after week, more kids are getting sick with COVID. But now, health experts say there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

There’s a new push to get the vaccine authorized for kids 5 to 11 as soon as next month. This is a decision eagerly awaited by millions of Americans, particularly by parents of school aged- children who haven’t yet been eligible to get vaccinated.

“I think it’s a good idea. If they have the vaccine available to you, you need to be taking it,” Eric Watkins, a father of a 12-year-old boy said.

For Watkins, the decision to get his son vaccinated against the virus was easy, but he still worries about his safety at school.

“A lot of his classmates aren’t vaccinated, that’s the problem,” he said.

Right now, the Pfizer version is the only COVID vaccine approved for children 12 years and older.

On Friday, the company said it’s one step closer to approving the vaccine for children 5 to 11.

“They had to enroll enough kids to know if it was safe and the adverse effects they would see,” Dr. Nick Hysmith with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital said.

Dr. Hysmith said he expects Pfizer to have enough data from clinical trials to seek emergency use authorization for that age group. He said it may be approved as early as next month.

“I would tell parents it’s safe,” he said. “This is the way we are going to prevent other variants from cropping up. This it the way we’re going to keep our kids in school.”

Dr. Hysmith said forecasting models are predicting another surge in cases this winter. He said if enough kids get vaccinated before then, that could be prevented.

“If we have the vaccine approval in late October, hopefully by the time we see those numbers creep back up, we will have a ton of kids vaccinated and maybe we won’t see as big of a peak,” he said.

As for Watkins, he has some advice for parents who may be on the fence.

“Follow the advice of the CDC,” he said.

Doctors expect the vaccine for the 5 to 11-year-old age group to be the same formula that’s been approved for adults and older children, but with a lower dose.