Doctor explains why FDA delaying COVID vaccine authorization for kids under 5 is a good thing

Pfizer requested this delay after noticing the omicron variant was better than delta at evading the vaccine.

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Saturday, February 12, 2022
Doctor says FDA delaying vaccine for kids under 5 is good a sign
As the FDA waits on more data before authorizing Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids under 5-years-old, a Bay Area doctor explains this is a good thing.

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- The FDA is waiting on more data before deciding to authorize Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5-years-old.

"The great news was that it was safe for every kid, every child that was enrolled in the trial. So, clearly it would be safe to give, and then the question was one of efficacy," said Dr. David Cornfield, Chief of Pediatrics Pulmonary Medicine at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

Pfizer requested this delay after noticing the omicron variant was better than delta at evading the vaccine. Their trials signaled that two doses was not enough protection for this age group.

Now, Pfizer is waiting on data after a third dose.

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"The third dose would be really intended to increase the immunity for the kids six months to two years, and also provide augmented immunity for the kids two years to just about five," said Dr. Cornfield.

Dr. Cornfield highlighted that this age group is getting tenfold less of the vaccine dose that adults and children 12 and up are receiving.

VIDEO: FDA delays public meeting for COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 to review more data

Many parents are disappointed to hear that the COVID vaccine for kids under 5 may take longer than expected.

"For teenagers and adults it's a 30 microgram dose of the vaccine. For kids who are five to 12 is a 10 microgram dose. For these younger people, the dose that was chosen was three micrograms, so roughly one-tenth of the dose that was given to people 12-years-old and above. The reason for that was to prevent an over exuberant immune reaction," said Dr. Cornfield.

The Biden administration was hoping to expand vaccinations for children under five-years-old by next week.

Kim Kadesh will have to wait much longer to vaccinate her 16-month-old daughter, Victoria.

"As long as our family members are vaccinated, I think we are somewhat comfortable, but obviously it provides another layer of protection if our daughter was also vaccinated as well," said Kadesh.

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Golden Gate Pediatrics was gearing up to begin the vaccination process. They have 2,500 patients under five-years-old, and now they'll have to wait until at least April when Pfizer is expected to release new data.

"That group of families was excited to get this going. So, we were kind of in that last stage. I think people want what's right and want to be handled correctly. So they understand, but I think there's a bit of a letdown, but overall it's better to get it right," said Mike Gangel, CEO of Golden Gate Pediatrics.

Dr. Cornfield believes Pfizer made the right choice.

"In many ways, this should be taken as a huge vote of confidence in the Pfizer team. They did not chose to pursue authorization from the FDA in the absence of really robust data, and by saying 'let's take a pause for a little bit and see if we can get a little bit of better data.' I think that should make the public feel more confident of the vaccine, "said Dr. Cornfield.