Vaccines for kids under 12 coming, but not before classes start

As stress mounts among school districts and parents over plans to protect children who aren't eligible for COVID-19 vaccines when classes start, the question on many minds is: When will shots be approved for kids ages 11 and younger?

Unfortunately, the answer is elusive.

Pfizer/Biotech, the only drug manufacturer with a COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for ages 12 through 17 in the U.S., announced in May it expected to request emergency use authorization from the federal government for younger children in September.

But that doesn't mean instant action, experts said. Instead, it's expected to take some weeks to analyze data, issue findings and later inoculate the latest wave.

"Now they're talking about it being later this year," said Dr. Michael Bauer, a pediatrician and Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital medical director.

"By the time we get the authorization, then get all those children, or a large percentage of them, fully vaccinated - you are certainly looking at a minimum of the first half of the school year with all the kids under age 12 not vaccinated," Bauer said Monday.

Pfizer's vaccine requires two doses three weeks apart. The company expects to seek authorization for separate cohorts from ages 11 to 5 and from 5 to 2, officials said.

The reason for the cautious approach is "children aren't little adults," and it's important to ensure they receive the correct dosage, Naperville pediatrician and author Shelly Vaziri Flais told the Daily Herald in June.

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