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Omaha-area doctor weighs in on COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11

50 local youth participating in Pfizer’s study
Kids ages 5-11 are now available to receive a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine following a recent study.
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 1:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A promising sign in the fight against COVID-19: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is proving to be just as effective in creating coronavirus-fighting antibodies in kids ages 5 to 11 as it is in teenagers and young adults.

“This is huge,” Dr. Kari Simonsen said.

Dr. Simonsen was the principal investigator for Pfizer’s local vaccine study. Overall, Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-dose vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergarteners and elementary school-aged kids. Locally, there were 50 participants.

“Kids ages 5 to 11 had very similar immune responses to adolescents and adults who received the vaccine.,” Dr. Simonsen said. “That demonstrates that it’s safe, it’s well-tolerated and they have a good immune response which should protect them from COVID.”

These results couldn’t come at a more crucial time: The American Academy of Pediatrics announced this week there’s been an over 240% increase in COVID-19 cases since July.

“As the Delta variant came through, the game really changed for kids,” Dr. Simonsen said.

As far as next steps, Pfizer is submitting their data to the FDA and plans to seek emergency use authorization for kids in this age range soon.

“I’m sure that the FDA advisory committee will be weighing the risk benefits; we know there are lots of cases in children, but the risk of dying is still very, very low, so that risk-benefit is going to be very important to be weighed,” Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, the former assistant secretary of U.S. DHHS said.

Dr. Simonsen says she and other pediatricians around the country will be waiting anxiously, hoping to have another tool in their arsenal in the fight against this pandemic.

Really hopeful that our FDA will move forward and approve it expeditiously. I can’t wait to be able to protect more kids,” Dr. Simonsen said.

Pfizer says it is also awaiting results from a study looking at vaccine effectiveness in children as young as 6 months old. The results of those studies are expected later this year.

There are currently six pediatric patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Douglas County.

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