A booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine raised antibody levels in children ages 5 to 11, according to the company, which said it plans to seek authorization for another shot for that age group. But what about those under the age of 5?
While the booster news may come as a relief to some parents, the pandemic has still been a life-altering experience, particularly for families with kids under the age of 5.
Currently, Pfizer's COVID vaccine has been the only one approved for emergency use in the US for children between the ages of 5 and 17. And while there appeared to be hope for parents of children under 5 earlier this year, a lack of updates has left many questioning.
Among those anxiously awaiting news is Flora Gorman, who welcomed her twins, Elliott and Noah, just 10 months ago.
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“They spent the first nearly 3 and 4 months of their lives in the NICU in critical condition due to significant prematurity," Gorman said. "[They had] some complications that are specific to identical twins.”
Doing most things virtually is how the Gorman family continues to live their lives, even as restrictions lift across the country for many.
The Gormans' lifestyle likely won’t be changing anytime soon, despite the welcomed news about Pfizer’s COVID boosters for kids between 5 and 11. Pfizer said it plans to submit data to the Food and Drug Administration showing that booster shots in the young age group led to a six-fold increase in antibodies against the original strain of coronavirus.
In a smaller sub-analysis trial of 30 kids, the additional dose led to a thirty-six fold increase in antibodies against the omicron variant, according to a statement from Pfizer.
The data has not been made available to outside scientists for independent review as of Thursday.
But for parents like Gorman, the waiting game continues for children under the age of 5.
“We’re pretty anxious about them being eligible for a vaccine so that we can participate in life in the way that we hope for them without as much fear as we have had thus far," Gorman said.
Pfizer has been testing smaller doses for children under 5 but had to add a third shot to its study when two didn’t prove strong enough. Those results were expected by early April, though no announcement has been made so far.
Moderna said last month that it would ask U.S. regulators in the coming weeks to authorize two small dose shots for children under 6, but that also hasn’t happened yet.
Until then, “it does feel like we’re kind of being left behind in some ways," Gorman said. "I think a lot of it has to do with COVID fatigue.”
While health officials have COVID-19 generally isn’t as dangerous to youngsters as to adults, some do become severely ill.
The CDC says about 400 children younger than 5 have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic’s start.
The omicron variant hit children especially hard, with those under 5 hospitalized at higher rates than at the peak of the previous delta surge.
While they wait for vaccination updates, parents like Gorman are still living on pause.