NEW YORK — Children in almost every grade of elementary school may be able to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before autumn is over, if a request that Pfizer formally made on Thursday is granted by the Food and Drug Administration.
It officially requested emergency use authorization for a vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.
There are many questions that the pharmaceutical company will have to answer at an FDA panel review, tentatively set for Oct. 26, as well as questions coming from many parents in the meantime and after the review date.
The parent of a 7-year-old with special needs said now that the city is mandating all school personnel be vaccinated, it makes sense for students to be vaccinated as well.
“Right now, with all the teachers, if you sneeze, they think you’ve already got the COVID,” he said. With a vaccine for elementary school children, he continued, “everybody’s vaccinated, and it’s Better for everybody.”
Jah Drysdale, a local parent of seven children, said that he remains skeptical of vaccines for adults, and as a result, wouldn’t let his children be vaccinated — at least not any time soon.
“I would need to see more background on these vaccines coming out,” he said, “instead of me just jumping right ahead and getting something.”
In addition to the FDA reviewing the vaccine, the CDC would also have to give approval. Still, at that pace that the process is currently proceeding, a children’s vaccine could be ready by Dec. 1, or even weeks before.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city is “anxious” to vaccinate its children.
“The minute we are authorized,” he said at his daily news conference, “we will start vaccinating same day.”
Not every parent, however, is anxious for the vaccine to be approved for kids, including in some of the communities hardest hit by COVID, like here in East Harlem.
A mother who didn’t want to give her name said that she’s against the vaccines at any age.
“Everybody has their own opinions,” she said. “Me personally, I won’t do it. I won’t.”
Khadiatou Sow, another parent, is a medical worker. She said that she’s seen a wide variety of other vaccines work well in children, so she supports adding a safe COVID vaccine for kids.
“I think it’s a good thing,” she said. “When the kid is first born, they give them vaccine[s] to prevent them from getting sick, but not to get worse.”
“It doesn’t stop the sickness,” she continues, “but it helps you to prevent it. I think [this vaccine] is a good thing.”
Dr. Dyan Hes, the medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics, has treated a variety of respiratory ailments in children, including COVID.
She said that she supports a vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds, but said there’s much more to learn, including how the dosages will be measured and administered.
Pfizer has indicated that children would receive about one-third of the quantity of an adult dose, but it’s unclear if it would be part of a dilution, or if syringes would be smaller, among other details that remain unclear to the public at large at the moment.
“We need some answers and we need some information,” Dr. Hes said in an interview, “so we can give our families some hope on what is going to happen between October and Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and then the holidays.”
She said that parents are understandably curious.
“They want their kids vaccinated,” she said.