The decision to vaccinate young children: Pfizer shares new vaccine data for children under 5

MADISON – As a parent, it’s natural to want to protect your child. But when it comes to a global pandemic, mom and dad can only do so much; meaning Pfizer’s recently released vaccine data comes as good news to many families.

On Monday, Pfizer released new data showing its three-dose vaccine for children as young as six months is 80 percent effective against illness from the Omicron variant. It’s important also to note that Pfizer’s preliminary data has not yet been published or peer-reviewed.

The trial included nearly 1,700 kids who got the third dose during the omicron variant surge. Researchers reported three child-size doses for this youngest age group, six months to five years, were “well-tolerated” and no new safety signals were identified.

This means parents with young kids will likely soon be faced with the decision of whether or not to vaccinate their child against Covid-19. As kids under five remain the only age group still ineligible for Covid vaccines, local healthcare providers said this is something all parents should consider for their child.

“The data that Pfizer is submitting to the FDA, along with what Moderna submitted earlier, hopefully now we will see a vaccine available for this group sometime this summer,” said Mo Kharbat, the vice president of pharmacy services for SSM Health. “This is exciting because we want to protect our children and we also want them to help us stop the spread of the virus.”

Kharbat said for this age group especially, a vaccine push is still needed.

“We want to stop the spread of the virus,” Kharbat said. “Children tend to congregate mostly indoors in small groups,  and sometimes they carry the virus. Even if they don’t get ill themselves, they may pass the virus to someone that can carry the infection. And if that person is immunocompromised, the outcome can be serious.”

Covid-19 is still prevalent among U.S. children,  as the American Academy of Pediatrics has reported the number of new infections has increased by 72 percent in two weeks. From May 12 to May 19, more than 107,000 kids tested positive for Covid-19. This follows a trend of pediatric Covid cases increasing over the last six weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University.

As for what’s next for vaccine approval for children under five, the FDA meets next month to discuss both the Pfizer vaccine and a two-dose version from Moderna.