A booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine raised antibody levels in children aged 5 to 11, according to the company, which said it plans to seek approval for another vaccine for this age group. But what about children under 5?
While news of the recall may come as a relief to some parents, the pandemic has always been a life-changing experience, especially for families with children under 5.
Currently, Pfizer’s COVID vaccine is the only one approved for emergency use in the United States for children ages 5 to 17. And while there seemed to be hope for parents of kids under 5 earlier this year, a lack of updates has left plenty of questions.
Among those eagerly awaiting news is Flora Gorman, who welcomed her twins, Elliott and Noah, just 10 months ago.
“They spent the first 3 and 4 months of life in NICU in critical condition due to significant prematurity,” Gorman said. “[They had] certain complications unique to identical twins.
Doing most things virtually is how the Gorman family continues to live their lives, even as restrictions lift across the country for many.
The Gormans’ lifestyle probably won’t change anytime soon, despite the good news about Pfizer’s COVID boosters for kids between 5 and 11. Pfizer said it plans to submit data to the Food and Drug Administration showing that booster shots in the younger age group led to a six-fold increase in antibodies against the original strain of coronavirus.
In a smaller sub-analysis trial of 30 children, the extra dose caused a thirty-six-fold increase in antibodies against the omicron variant, according to a statement from Pfizer.
The data was not made available to outside scientists for independent review as of Thursday.
But for parents like Gorman, the waiting game continues for children under 5.
“We’re quite worried that they’ll be eligible for a vaccine so that we can participate in life the way we hope for them without as much fear as we’ve had so far,” Gorman said.
Pfizer tested lower doses for children under 5, but had to add a third injection to its study when two were not found to be strong enough. These results were expected in early April, although no announcements have been made so far.
Moderna said last month it would ask US regulators in the coming weeks to allow two small-dose injections for children under 6, but that has yet to happen.
Until then, “it feels like we’ve kind of been left behind,” Gorman said. “I think it has a lot to do with fatigue related to COVID.”
While health officials say COVID-19 is generally not as dangerous for young people as it is for adults, some are getting seriously ill.
The CDC says about 400 children under the age of 5 have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The omicron variant has particularly affected children, with those under 5 being hospitalized at higher rates than at the height of the previous delta surge.
While waiting for vaccination updates, parents like Gorman are still living on hiatus.