The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11 years old Nov. 2, and shipments of the new, lower-dose formulation have already begun to arrive and be administered in the Los Altos area.
Children 5-11 will receive a 10-microgram dose, one-third that used in teens and adults, using a smaller needle. Like adults, they will receive two doses, spaced several weeks apart. The vaccine at that lower dose was 90.7% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection in children, whose immune systems are more responsive than those of adults.
Pediatricians’ practices have been planning for several weeks to make vaccines quickly available, and major local health systems, including Stanford Health Care (650-498-9000) and Palo Alto Medical Foundation (844-987-6115), were offering booking appointments via phone over the weekend and began online bookings midweek. The California Department of Public Health continues to offer vaccine appointments at many local sites via myturn.ca.gov, where families also can book a group appointment or, in the case of special needs, get help with in-home vaccination or transportation.
The vaccines are particularly effective at preventing severe disease but do not provide perfect protection, and children under age 5 still have no access to vaccination. Other viral control measures, including mask-wearing in some local jurisdictions, will remain in effect until the pandemic is more broadly controlled. Almost 86% of Santa Clara County residents ages 12 and older were fully vaccinated as of Nov. 10.
Clinical trials in children of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, and of the Pfizer vaccine in an even smaller dose for children under 5, are underway. Pfizer representatives have said they expect results for 2- to 4-year-olds before the end of the year, opening the door to possible authorization in early 2022.