EL CAJON, CA - AUGUST 24: Second grader, Julia puts her mask on during gym class on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020 in El Cajon, CA. (Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
Second grader Julia puts her mask on during gym class in El Cajon, Calif. (Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
COVID 2022

What we know so far about COVID-19 vaccinations for kids

On Monday, Pfizer announced it will seek emergency-use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. While there’s no official timetable, it took less than a month for that authorization to be granted for the adult version late last year.

Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11.

The question on a lot of parents’ minds right now: When can my kid get one?

Millions of children have tested positive for COVID-19. At least 460 have died. Cases in children have accelerated during the Delta variant wave: As of Sept. 2, children made up 15.1% of reported cases over the duration of the pandemic; in just the week ending Sept. 2, they made up 26.8% of the total, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That represents a 250% increase in child cases since the week of July 22-29.

According to a report in the Atlantic, some parents have fudged their kids’ birth dates to get ones just shy of the 12-year mark their shots. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend this.) Others have sought doctors who are willing to vaccinate younger children via off-label use. (Also not recommended.) If the shot is approved for kids 5 to 11, those kinds of workarounds will be moot.

Here’s what we know right now about the timeline to getting kids under 12 vaccinated.

How close are we to a COVID-19 vaccine for kids?

On Monday, Pfizer announced it will seek emergency-use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president, told the Associated Press that the drugmaker used a lower dose of the same vaccine — one-third of the amount in the 12-and-older version — in trials in younger children. The results: The same antibody levels in subjects as in older teenagers who received the regular dose.

The FDA’s vaccine chief said earlier this month that he is “very, very hopeful” that vaccines will be authorized and rolled out for children ages 5 to 11 by the end of this year. In the same interview, he said once the FDA receives data from Pfizer, “we’re going to do a thorough job on that as quickly as we can” and come to a decision “hopefully within a matter of weeks rather than a matter of months.”

There is no official timetable for how long that could take. Pfizer submitted the vaccine for emergency-use authorization for adults on Nov. 20, 2020, and received that authorization three weeks later on Dec. 11. Full FDA approval was granted on Aug. 23.

Monday’s announcement was that Pfizer plans to file for that same type of emergency-use authorization for the kids’ version before the end of this month.

A needle in a tray with a disinfectant wipe
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

What about Moderna and Johnson & Johnson?

The Moderna clinical trials for kids 6 to 11 are underway. In July, the New York Times reported that the Pfizer trials were moving faster than its mRNA vaccine competitor’s.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has emergency-use authorization for people 18 and older. As of this month, the drugmaker is in Phase 3 of clinical trials to test its vaccine on adolescents ages 12 to 17.

When will kids under 5 be able to be vaccinated?

Pfizer had said in July that it expected to have results for the trials on kids 5 to 11 by September, children ages 2 to 5 soon after that, and infants and toddlers 6 months to 2 years old in October or November. It has come through on those first results, with no reported delays in trials for any of the younger age groups. Moderna said it also plans to run trials for children as young as 6 months.

So the answer is: Those trials are ongoing. We should know more in the next month or two.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.