Jan 31, 2022 - Health

COVID vaccines could be available for young children by end of February

A nurse gives a little girl a shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site for 5-11 year-olds at Eastmonte Park.

A little boy watches a nurse give a girl a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot in Altamonte Springs, Fla., in November. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

COVID-19 vaccines could become available for children younger than 5 by the end of February, the Washington Post first reported and a source familiar with the situation confirmed to Axios on Monday.

Between the lines: Pfizer's vaccine would initially be available as a two-dose regimen under this plan. But recent data has shown that two doses do not provide a strong enough immune response in all age groups — meaning a major goal of the plan would be to begin the multi-week vaccination process while data is gathered on a third dose.

What to expect Pfizer and BioNTech are expected to submit a request to the FDA as soon as Tuesday for emergency-use authorization of their COVID vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old, per WashPost.

  • Regulators could then begin reviewing the two-shot data. Data on the effectiveness of a third shot isn't expected until until at least late March.

Zoom in: "The idea is, let’s go ahead and start the review of two doses," a source told WashPost. "If the data holds up in the submission, you could start kids on their primary baseline months earlier than if you don’t do anything until the third-dose data comes in."

  • Once the third shot data is available, regulators could then decide whether to authorize a third dose, WashPost writes.

Details: Pfizer announced in December that two shots of the vaccine did not produce an immune response in 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds that is comparable to that of adults, although it did produce an adequate immune response in children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years.

What we're watching: If it comes to fruition, the plan could be a source of relief for parents anxious to get their young children vaccinated.

  • On the other hand, the unconventional authorization process could also add to vaccine skepticism, especially as uptake has been low among younger children already eligible for the shots.
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