Metro Detroit parents awaiting FDA decision on vaccine for kids under 5

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Posted at 11:36 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 23:36:07-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — It’s been more than a year since the first COVID-19 vaccines have been available in the United States. However, that hasn’t been the case for the 19 million Americans under the age of 5.

The youngest age group is the last remaining group still without a vaccine but as soon as this month, that could change.

Just this week, Pfizer submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration asking them to approve a two-dose COVID-19 shot for kids 6 months to 5 years of age. Each dose is much smaller than the dosage for adults, and it’s still unclear whether two will be enough.

“It's a long awaited light at the end of the tunnel,” parent Elizabeth Griem said.

After nearly two years, the moment parents like Griem have been waiting for is almost here. By this time next month, her 3-year-old daughter might be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“So excited to get my little one vaccinated so she can go out and start doing some normal things again she never got to do before,” Griem said.

On Tuesday after being urged by the FDA, Pfizer officially asked for authorization of its two-shot COVID vaccine for kids under 5. Each dose is a tenth of the size of the adult dose.

“The key thing with kids under the age of 5 is that it looks like the two-shot series is not as effective as it is for adults,” said Dr. Justin Skrzynski, an Internal Medicine physician with Beaumont Health.

While the request is for two shots, a third shot is still being studied and may be needed for this low-dose vaccine.

"It’s a very uncommon situation where Pfizer is going to the FDA for approval of a two-shot series in advance of having the complete data for the third shot, which would be necessary for kids,” Skrzynski said.

The thought process is that by approving two doses now, kids can get a head start before the third dose is approved. Parents like Griem say they’ll be ready.

“As soon as it’s available, I'm going to get her vaccinated,” Griem said.

However, many other parents likely won’t feel the same way. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, just 20% of kids 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated despite having the vaccine available since late October. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that just 30% of parents with kids under 5 plan to get them the shot.

When the pandemic started, Griem's daughter was just 1 year old. Griem is hopeful this vaccine will introduce her to new friends and a new normal.

“She doesn't really remember a time before wearing masks, before being stuck inside," Griem said. "She hasn’t experienced a lot of different things that normal kids her age experience.”

A final decision from the FDA could come before the end of the month, then it will be up to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make the final recommendation.