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Pfizer Vaccine Approved for Kids

The FDA released a press announcement on Oct. 29 granting the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine emergency use in children ages 5 to 11 after voting 17-0 for its usage.

“The authorization was based on the FDA’s thorough and transparent evaluation of the data that included input from independent advisory committee experts who overwhelmingly voted in favor of making the vaccine available to children in this age group,” the FDA said in their press announcement.

The following week on Nov. 2 and 3, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met to discuss and vote on whether or not to recommend the Pfizer shots for children beyond emergency usage. Unanimously, they voted yes.

The Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness may have played a role in it earning the unanimous approval.

“Immune responses of children 5 through 11 years of age were comparable to those of individuals 16 through 25 years of age,” the FDA said. “In addition, the vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11.”

As a result of the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness, its approval may prevent hundreds of thousands of cases.

“If younger children are vaccinated at a similar rate as adolescents, CDC modeling suggests some 600,000 cases of the disease could be prevented through March,” CBS said in an article regarding the CDC’s decision.

Pfizer also took safety measures in their trial.

“At the request of regulators, Pfizer had looked for safety concerns and side effects in around 3,100 children 5 to 11 who received the 10 microgram doses,” CBS said.

CBS also quoted the FDA’s Dr. Doran Fink, who noted the vaccine’s large trial size.

“That trial is ‘at the upper end or even beyond’ the size typically used to license other vaccines for children,” Fink said.

Regarding the COVID-19 vaccines in general, Courtney McCoy, an assistant nursing professor at Oklahoma Christian University, said it is important to realize how many people have been vaccinated.

“I think it’s important to realize that millions of people have been vaccinated,” McCoy said. “That is larger than any clinical trial would ever be, and in research, the more participants you have, the more reliable the data is. So, the data we have is very reliable and accurate.”

McCoy said this data should give people confidence.

“We now have so much data on vaccines in general, I hope people will feel confident and comfortable getting their kids vaccinated,” McCoy said. “It is the same vaccine that is being used on 12 and older, just a smaller dose.”

Tina Schrader, a nursing student at Oklahoma Christian and a member of the campus Vaccine Ambassador team, said the vaccine should benefit the children in more than one way.

“I’m excited for the vaccine to roll out to younger kids for many different reasons,” Schrader said. “First, it will protect the kids from contracting and spreading the coronavirus to at-risk adults. Second, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on education the last year and a half … [the vaccine] will allow them to be present in their classrooms and stay connected to the people around them.”

Schrader said Oklahoma Christian has handled vaccine distribution well.

“They have provided resources to help students and faculty make an informed decision about the vaccine,” Schrader said. “The rates of COVID-19 on campus have gone down significantly this year compared to last, and I really believe it is due to the great job Oklahoma Christian has done with educating about the vaccine and providing resources to students.”

A Q&A hosted by the Oklahoma Christian Vaccine Ambassadors will be available next week on Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The panel will include Vaccine Ambassador members,  professors from Oklahoma Christian and medical professionals from Oklahoma University.

McCoy said it is important to try and be understanding of one another, regardless of perspective.

“I think it’s important for us to all remember this is everyone’s first global pandemic experience, and we’re all doing our best to navigate this new normal,” McCoy said. “So, let’s continue to show each other compassion and grace.”

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