What does FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine mean for kids? Expert explains

Coronavirus in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — While the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for adults and some teens, there is an option for younger age groups to get the vaccine.

Right now, the vaccine is fully approved for people ages 16 and older. It’s also approved for Emergency Use Authorization for people ages 12-15 and those who are immunocompromised and need a booster shot.

However, Dr. Dennis Cooley, a pediatrician in Topeka and the District Chair for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Thursday that once a vaccine is fully approved, it is possible for a provider or physician to prescribe a vaccine “off label,” or for groups, it may not be approved for. As of now, that means children 11 and under.

Cooley explained that there are several reasons pediatric groups, like his organization, advise against it.

He said that the FDA had not approved the vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization for this age group. The other reason is that there’s still information being gathered on how the vaccine is suited to younger kids.

“In the younger kids, we’re actually seeing that they’re using smaller doses,” Dr. Cooley said. “And so, at this point, rather than having a provider or physician try to guess what dose to give, we should be waiting and finding out what the data shows and what the recommendations are from the FDA.”

Clinical trials are still in progress for kids ages 11 and younger. While more information is still coming out, Dr. Cooley said it’s important that eligible people get vaccinated. He also said it’s important to follow safety measures like wearing masks and social distancing, especially as the highly contagious delta variant spreads.

“Delta is extremely dangerous and we’re seeing that. I really encourage people to get the vaccine and follow those mitigation efforts.”

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