CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The newest tool in the fight against COVID-19 could be on the way before the end of the year, with Pfizer announcing its vaccine has been effective in kids 5-11 years old.
The news couldn’t come at a better time, as COVID-19 cases in kids are skyrocketing.
Pediatric COVID-19 cases in the US have jumped 240% since July, a trend Novant pediatrician Dr. Sumon Bhowmick said he’s seeing in the Queen City.
“Personally, over the last two months I’ve seen more than I’ve seen in the entire year, for sure,” Bhomick said.
If approved, Pfizer’s vaccine may be able to help bring these numbers down.
“It was exciting to wake up this morning to see the preliminary topline results showing that the vaccine is both safe and induces an immune response,” said Dr. Emmanuel Walter with Duke University.
Walter has been working on vaccine trials for kids under 12 since March.
“We enrolled the first subject for that trial on March 24th,” Walter said.
Over 2,000 kids were part of the study.
Anna Aceituno, a mother in North Carolina, said her kids were among them.
“I actually have two children in the trial, two boys, 4 and 7,” Aceituno said.
As a public health scientist, Aceituno said it was a no-brainer.
“I was interested in getting them involved as soon as I knew there would be a safe clinical trial for children,” Aceituno said.
Ultimately, Aceituno said it was a decision she made with her kids.
“I basically talked to them about it and said you know, no kid can get this vaccine until some kids step up and agree to be first, you know, be brave for all the other kids that are out there waiting, and they were like, 'Yeah, let’s do it,'” Aceituno said.
Of course, Aceituno said she doesn’t know if her kids received the shot or a placebo.
“I believe it’s like a two-thirds chance they got the real shot and a one-third chance they got the placebo so we won’t know until the trial is over,” Aceituno said.
Aceituno said neither of her kids had any side effects.
“I wish they had symptoms, a little bit,” Aceituno said. “Neither of them had any reaction or symptom so I don’t know if they had the actual or placebo shot but both of them did very very well.”
Walter said side effects are possible with this vaccine.
“I think we know that you can have some of the same symptoms adults report you can get fever, you can get muscle aches chills headaches,” Walter said.
Walter said this dose for children is one-third of the dose adults and older kids get.
“Children between the ages 5-11 received a 10 microgram dose, older adolescents and adults receive a 30 microgram dose,” Walter said.
Walter said that decision came because of children’s smaller weight.
“I think there was concern that as you move down in size, that the 30 microgram dose which is given to older adolescents and adults who weigh more may have more fever and side effects,” Walter said.
Walter said researchers had to find the right dosage that mitigated side effects while still being effective.
“It’s kind of a balancing act, which is why it's taken since March to really see results,” Walter said.
Now, the FDA and CDC will have to review the data and Walter said an emergency authorization decision could come before winter.
“I would suspect maybe we’ll see something late October,” Walter said.
Aceituno said if her kids did receive the placebo she’ll be getting them vaccinated as soon as she can.
“I just want to do everything I can to get my kids to have the lowest chance possible for getting this disease, it's like one less thing to worry about in these stressful last few years,” Aceituno said.