Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday that late-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine in children show that the shots were safe and effective in kids aged between 5 and 11.
The results mark a key step in getting the vaccine approved for younger school-aged children.
In its press release, Pfizer said children who received low-dose shots in the Phase 2/3 trials developed virus-fighting antibodies about as well as adults who received two typical shots of the vaccine.
"We are pleased to be able to submit data to regulatory authorities for this group of school-aged children before the start of the winter season," said Dr. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech's co-founder and CEO. "The safety profile and immunogenicity data in children aged 5 to 11 years vaccinated at a lower dose are consistent with those we have observed with our vaccine in other older populations at a higher dose."
The Pfizer vaccine has already been fully approved in the U.S. for everyone aged 16 and up, and is available for those aged 12 to 15 under emergency use authorization.
Dr. Duane Wooten, a pediatrician with Valle del Sol Community Health, was ecstatic when he heard the news.
"I jumped up and did a hallelujah praise dance," said Dr. Wooten. "But I knew it was coming. We’ve seen it now, this vaccine is very safe."
While kids do not have even close to the mortality rate with COVID-19 as the elderly or people with existing health issues, Dr. Wooten said the vaccine is still needed.
"From August 5 to September 5, we’ve had 750,000 cases of COVID in children," he said. "This vaccine is needed just as much or even more than others... We have seen so many more children in the last couple of months, in the ICUs."Dr. Wooten said the vaccine will not prevent the Delta variant from spreading completely, but it will certainly prevent people from being hospitalized or dying.
"My motto is -- one child is too many. If I can prevent a child from dying, I’m going to do that."
The anti-vax sentiment is prevalent in Arizona. Dr. Wooten said he sees it every day.
But the experienced health professional has also seen parents drive for miles to get their children vaccinated at a recent event for kids 12 and older.
"We had people from around the valley bringing their kids to get the vaccine," he said.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story mistakenly noted that the Pfizer vaccine is fully approved for all children aged 12 and older.