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Pfizer says vaccine is safe for kids; experts say shots are still weeks out

Experts say a decision from the FDA could take one to two months.

MINNEAPOLIS — On Monday, Pfizer announced its low-dose vaccine is both safe and effective for children 5 to 11 years old.

The kids in the study received two 10-microgram doses, 21 days apart.

This dosage is one-third as potent as the 30-microgram doses that are given to adults.

Based on the data released Monday, kids aged 5 to 11 developed similar levels of protection when compared to older kids 12 to 16, and young adults 16 to 25.

The data also suggested that the shots were just as safe for kids aged 5 to 11 when compared to older kids and adults.  

“The two biggest questions we had with this study was, could they get that immune response with a smaller dose, and will it be safe? And I think right now the data suggests it is,” Hennepin Healthcare Pediatrician Dr. Krishnan Subrahmanian says.

The announcement doesn't mean that kids will be able to go out and get their shots tomorrow or later this week.

That's not how it works.

Doctors say this is just the first step, it could be several weeks before these shots become available for kids.

State infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann says if everything goes well, the Pfizer vaccine could become available within the next one to two months.

"There are a few more steps, sort of regulatory checks and balances that need to take place,” Ehresmann says.

She says the data Pfizer released Monday only tells part of the story.

More in-depth data will come out later this month.

The FDA will take a look at it, and so will doctors and scientists who will draw their own conclusions.

While this process plays out, Subrahmanian says parents should start thinking about a game plan.

If they're on the fence about the vaccine, he recommends chatting with your doctor or your child's pediatrician.

"Ask them about the safety of this vaccine and its efficacy and is it safe and efficacious and I think right now the data suggests it is,” Subrahmanian says.

Then, start to think about where you'd like to have your child vaccinated.

Ehresmann says the Minnesota Department of Health is still formulating a vaccine rollout plan for young kids, but their plan will likely include multiple options.

"If there were some mass vaccination sites available, would that be a comfortable setting for them, or would they prefer to be vaccinated at the office of their healthcare provider? That's something to certainly think about,” Ehresmann says.

Pfizer is also working on a study for kids 5 and under.

They are receiving three microgram doses, about one-third as potent as the doses that were given to the kids aged 5 to 11.

Pfizer is hoping to have results from that portion of the study available by the end of the year.