HONOLULU (KHON2) — Children ages 5 to 11 could be next in line to get a COVID-19 shot.
Pfizer announced its vaccine was shown to be safe and effective through clinical trials for that age group on Monday, Sept. 20.
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However, it will need emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration but before shots can go into arms.
The trial included 2,268 children and used a smaller vaccine dose than the ones currently used for people 12 and older.
“It makes a good immune response at that dose and that it’s safe,” Hawaii Pacific Health pediatric hospitalist Dr. Shilpa Patel said. “So it’s looking helpful let’s see what the FDA says and hopefully fingers crossed, it’s a game-changer to get school-aged children vaccinated.”
Since July, pediatric COVID-19 cases have risen by about 240% in the United States. According to the Hawaii Department of Health, there have been 12,476 COVID-19 infections in children up to 17 years old since the pandemic began. That is 18% of Hawaii’s overall COVID count.
According to Pfizer, researchers did not observe any instances of myocarditis — heart inflammation rarely linked to mRNA vaccines — during the trial and added the side effects were comparable to trials in people 16 to 25 years old.
“Myocarditis was happening in young adolescent males, mostly, not in this group, it doesn’t appear between 5 and 11,” Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green said. “It was self-limiting. In other words, they were getting better anyway, which is important. Also, the incidence of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart, was happening at a much, much, much higher rate if you caught COVID. So that’s always the gold standard.”
Pfizer said the findings still need to be reviewed by other scientists and they will also be reviewed by local doctors.
“We rely on our new kind of elite health team, and our pediatricians in the state, we’ve got a lot of great people. So they’ll look at it too. But overall, it just looks good. It looks like we will have a safe vaccination for children aged five to 11,” Lt. Gov. Green said.
The FDA will also need to give the green light.
“The FDA will take longer if they need it they’re not going to rush it, so when it does become available I will feel confident in recommending it to my patients.” Dr. Patel said.
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Data from the DOH shows 147 total hospitalizations among kids up to 17 years old. Lt. Gov. Green expects that it will be a matter of a few short weeks until the FDA gives emergency use authorization.