Virginia vaccine coordinator weighs in on Pfizer seeking COVID vaccine approval for kids ages 5-11

Pfizer Vaccine
Posted at 9:17 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 23:17:53-04

NORFOLK, Va. - This week, Norfolk mother Tracy McNair got her 3rd dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“I think we all have to fight this collectively together,” McNair told News 3. “I'd rather have it than not have it. A lot of people are in the hospital with COVID, and they're asking for the shot, and it's too late. Why wait until it's too late?”

Currently, the Pfizer shot is available for people 12 and older. But that could change soon.

Thursday, the company announced they've applied for Emergency Use Authorization for children ages 5-11.

READ: American Academy of Pediatrics Children and COVID-19 Report

It’s a request the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) anticipated, as the agency moves forward with an advisory committee meeting on Oct. 26.

“The FDA will be doing a thorough review of the data just to make sure we have a clear guideline for who should qualify for a vaccine,” Virginia COVID-19 Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said.

Dr. Avula told News 3 FDA committee members will specifically review data from Pfizer’s clinical trials within that age group.

“They really need to sift through all that data and identify did it work? Was it effective,” Avula said. “What we're waiting for is a clear review of the data that shows the benefit of this vaccine outweighs the risk of this vaccine.”

Dr. Avula told News 3, over the last 1-2 months, state officials have been making plans to reach out to schools and pediatrician offices in anticipation of a decision regarding a vaccine for children aged 5-11.

“There are a few primary channels that we're going to use,” he said. “A lot of people are used to getting their shots at a pediatrician's office, or a family practice doctor's office. We really hope that a lot of providers will step forward and offer this vaccine for their patients.”

Dr. Avula added they’re also pursuing doing school-based vaccination in as many school systems across the Commonwealth as possible when the times comes.

“We do know that when vaccination happens on school grounds, during school time, that actually increases access to certain families,” he said.

Dr. Avula said another avenue is mass vaccination centers.

“By the time we have an approved 5-11 vaccine, we should have about 8 or 9 sites opened up around the state,” he said.

News 3 also asked Dr. Avula, if a decision is made, whether there may be a push to vaccinate children ahead of winter break.

“There are a couple of more steps in the regulatory process,” he said. “The CDC advisory committee needs to meet and review that data independently, and ultimately, the CDC needs to make a recommendation. I think it's pretty realistic that, probably about the first or second week of November, we'll have a clear path forward in terms of who's eligible for this vaccine. The hope is that, at that point, the vaccine will become immediately available.”

Along with certain committees, both the CDC and FDA will need to approve the shot, as a whole, before the Emergency Use Authorization is approved.

Click here to view our COVID-19 vaccination guide