In-Depth: When can children under 12 receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine vial
Posted at 4:50 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 19:30:28-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Food and Drug Administration just gave Pfizer a green light to administer its COVID-19 vaccine to children in the 12-15 age group.

However, many parents are wondering when their younger children can receive doses.

In March, Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that children under 12 would be eligible for vaccination by early 2022, but the timeline has changed.

Now, younger children could be vaccinated as early as this fall.

In a May 4 call with investors, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company would submit an emergency-use authorization request in September for children ages 2-11.

Children's Mercy is one of the health systems participating in Pfizer's nationwide trial studying the use of the vaccine in children ages 6 months to 11 years.

Dr. Angela Myers, director of the infectious diseases division at Children's Mercy, confirmed on Tuesday the timeline previously laid out by Pfizer.

"Pfizer hopes to have enough data on the younger age groups to be able to submit that data by the end of summer," she said, "and hopefully we get some authorization after that. But it's always dependent on how enrollment continues and what they find."

Myers said that finding the right dose for younger children is a major focus for the trials.

"The dose that the 12 to 15 year olds are getting is the same dose adults for for the vaccine," she said.

While Pfizer isn't the only manufacturer in the game, it is ahead of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson when it comes to vaccinating children.

Moderna started its trial in December for children ages 12 to 17. The company's president told NBC's Today in March that he hopes to obtain approval for that age group by the fall.

Also in March, the company announced the first doses were administered to children ages 6 months to 11 months. However, there's no word on when results will be released. Moderna did not respond to an inquiry from the 41 Action News I-Team.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson said in April it was studying the use of the vaccine in the 12-17 age group.

A J&J spokesperson said in a statement that the vaccine "will initially be tested in a small number of adolescents, which will be expanded to a larger group in a step-wise approach, if initial data shows an acceptable safety profile."