Pfizer tests vaccine in kids under 12; parents split on whether they will vaccinate their children

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An announcement from Pfizer this week puts the U.S. another step closer toward the ability to vaccinate younger children.

Local doctors are calling it another reason for optimism, but some parents CBS 58 spoke with said they still need more information before they could consider getting their children vaccinated against COVID-19.

Pfizer announced it's testing the COVID-19 vaccine in a larger group of children younger than 12, meaning emergency use approval for some elementary schoolers could come in September.

The FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, will meet Thursday, June 10 to discuss what the criteria will be for approving vaccines for younger children.

Robert Lapp watched while his 6-year-old son Adrian played in Lake Michigan Wednesday. To give their family some peace of mind, he said he's ready to get his son vaccinated after the vaccine is approved for children in his age group.

"I don't want my kid running around the mask or inside plastic shielding around his desk. I want him to be able to live a normal life like the rest of us did. So certainly, if that shot gives him a chance to be protected from whatever's out there and he can go to school like a normal child, of course," he said.

He said he and his wife are vaccinated.

"(Adrian) is actually looking forward to it. He saw Mommy and Daddy both get their immunizations, and we're great with it," he said.

But not every parent who was at Bradford Beach on Wednesday is ready to dive in head first.

"I want to see the studies and the research of what it is and if there's different side effects for the kids versus adults," said Alex Kapellusch. She has a 2-year-old and a one-week-old and said she and her husband both have been vaccinated.

"I don't want to give (my children) a vaccination," said Nicole Mcneil, a mother of five. "I think they're too young because I don't know the reaction they might have to it."

Pfizer said it will start testing the COVID-19 vaccine in a larger group of children as young as 5. The company said it expects data from the 5-11 year-olds in September and the data for children between the ages of 2 and 4 soon after that. Data from trials for babies likely won't come until October or November.

"As much as everybody's eager to have these before school starts in the fall, I think for the younger kids, it's still going to be a little bit more time before we get to that point," said Dr. James Conway, a professor of pediatrics and the medical director for UW Health's immunization program.

Pfizer plans to use a smaller dose on children than what is approved for people 12 and up. Conway said that could help with some of the side effects.

"I think it demonstrates how careful everybody's being with these vaccines and trying to come up with what we call the 'Goldilocks spot.' You don't want to be too hot. You don't want to be too cold. You want to be just right," Conway said.

CBS 58 also asked Conway if he thinks the COVID-19 vaccine will be included in the list of vaccines routinely given to children.

"Yeah, I think we could see that. I think if we end up with this being an endemic disease -- in other words, a disease that continues to circulate at low levels or becomes a seasonal disease like influenza -- this may be something that gets added into the routine recommended schedule for vaccines. I think it would be quite some time before we would see it required for school entry and things like that," he said.

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