SALT LAKE CITY — With the FDA panel recommendation emergency use authorization for a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 5, a Utah doctor believes it may help get the virus under control in the state.
“We know that kids 5-to-11 play an important role in transmission of the virus,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia with University of Utah Health and Primary Children’s Hospital. “There’s a big benefit to children as well as a benefit to the family, as well as a benefit to the community.”
According to the Utah Department of Health, the Pfizer pediatric vaccine is the same vaccine as the adult vaccine, but is packaged in a different dose (pediatric doses are 10 micrograms each, adult doses are 30 micrograms each). Providers cannot use existing Pfizer stock for 5-11 year old patients.
“We do think that if we can get a substantial portion of kids in this age group vaccinated it will help us get the pandemic under control,” said Dr. Pavia. “Many of you heard the myth that is absolutely 100 percent false that kids aren’t severely affected by COVID, they are much less likely than older adults to die or be hospitalized but they’re pretty heavily affected.”
The Utah Department of Health has pre-ordered 109,000 pediatric doses, which will be shipped to providers throughout the state beginning Oct. 29. Additional pediatric doses will be available to order on a weekly basis beginning in early November. UDOH advised providers to not administer these doses until the CDC provides its final recommendation.
“If the vaccine works the way we want it to and the rates of infection in our school-aged kids start to drop so that we’re seeing a safer situation in the schools, that will be the time when safety protocols can get relaxed,” said Dr. Pavia.