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When will kids younger than 5 be able to get a COVID vaccine?

Pfizer said it expects to submit data from its revised trial to regulators in the first half of 2022.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Dr. Anthony Fauci got the attention of a lot of parents recently. Late last week he said he hopes the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for children under 5 years old within a month. However, he cautioned it could take longer than that.

"I think the best answer is sooner than later, but not as soon as we want," said Joe Kurland, infection preventionist and vaccine specialist at Children's Minnesota. 

Kurland says there are really only two companies close to a vaccine for that age group: Moderna and Pfizer.

Earlier this month, Moderna said it "expects to report data in children 2-5 years of age in March."

Pfizer is the only company right now with a vaccine authorized for people under 18. Currently, the youngest age authorized to get Pfizer's vaccine is 5. The company is still in clinical trials for kids 6 months to under 5 years.

Just before the holidays, they announced they were amending the trial to include a third dose of the vaccine, because in children ages 2, 3, and 4, two doses didn't trigger a strong enough immune response.

Pfizer said it expects to submit data from the revised trial to regulators in the first half of 2022.

"I don't have any reason to think it's going to be longer than that," Kurland said. "They've done a really good job of dialing in the safety profile. It's just a question of how well the new updated dose that they're trialing...is in protecting the kids against COVID in addition to being safe."

After the data is submitted, it's up to the FDA to review and authorize it for emergency use. Then it heads to a CDC committee for recommendations, before going into a child's arm. 

Kurland is optimistic that last step, administering the vaccine, won't take very long.

"The vaccine for kids 5 to 11 years of age came out very quickly," he said. "I think it was a very smooth transition."

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