What can latest from Pfizer tell us about when state’s kids will be eligible for vaccine?

Sep 20, 2021, 5:21 PM | Updated: Sep 21, 2021, 6:18 am
Pfizer vaccine, students...
A secondary school student receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

New data from Pfizer appears to indicate that its two-dose COVID-19 vaccine could be safe for children ages 5 to 11. But what does that mean for getting the company’s vaccine approved for kids moving forward? Virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen spoke to KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show to provide some insight.

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As Dr. Rasmussen points out, Pfizer’s announcement regarding its vaccine trials with kids didn’t actually contain much in the way of actionable data, operating more as “sort of science by press release.”

“We don’t know what the specific data is yet, so we’re going to have to wait until Pfizer actually submits their application to the FDA to get a closer look at that,” she noted.

That process should begin soon, with Pfizer expected to submit a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization in kids ages 5-11 any day now. FDA Chief Dr. Peter Marks has previously stated that his agency would come to a decision on Pfizer’s data “hopefully in a matter of weeks” once the company turns over its trial data.

What we do know is that Pfizer’s study showed that vaccine doses smaller than what teenagers and young adults typically receive appeared to be effective in producing antibody responses in younger children.

Perhaps more important than that, says Dr. Rasmussen, is determining the relative safety of the vaccine for kids.

“The main reason to do a trial like this is to look at the kids’ immune responses, and also to look at the safety profile,” she described. “I think that that’s probably what most parents are going to be concerned about and really interested in — the main thing I think everybody’s going to want to know: Is this safe for my kids to take?”

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Without more details from Pfizer, it’s difficult to determine whether there were any safety concerns during trials, or when children in Washington state could expect to become eligible for the vaccine themselves.

Even so, in this case, no news may be good news.

“We haven’t seen the data yet from Pfizer, but my guess would be that there probably weren’t any major safety signals seen in this trial,” Dr. Rasmussen posited. “If there were, the trial would have been stopped and we probably would have heard about it by now.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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What can latest from Pfizer tell us about when state’s kids will be eligible for vaccine?