COVID-19 vaccine for children may be ready by October, experts say

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 9:19 AM EDT
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(CNN) - Week after week, more children are getting COVID-19, but leading health experts said there could be a light at the end of the tunnel.

There’s a push to get a vaccine authorized for kids ages 5 to 11 by October.

“We’re seeing infections throughout every age group,” said Dr. James Versalovic, pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital. “You don’t want to go through this. You don’t.”

He said the virus is affecting “infants and very young children, school-aged children and unvaccinated teenagers.”

Medical experts said early diagnosis is crucial or, better yet, prevention.

“Use masking and other measures to keep our children safe and reassure parents that help is on the way,” Versalovic said.

Help is coming in the form of a vaccine, said former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is on Pfizer’s board, and Versalovic, who is helping run children’s trials.

“You could potentially have a vaccine available to children age 5 to 11 by Halloween,” Gottlieb said.

“That is our goal, October. We are doing everything we can now to move these trials ahead, and they’re moving ahead well,” Versalovic said.

In the meantime, the FDA has made it clear parents need to wait on the formal authorization, saying “children are not small adults” and “the vaccine doses that are currently being studied in younger children are not necessarily the same vaccine doses” that have been approved for other age groups.

The FDA said clinical trials are still underway, but once the relevant portion is complete, it will work with the manufacturers to analyze the data.

Then the manufacturer can submit for emergency use authorization.

After that, the FDA will evaluate benefits and risks, a process they said could take just a matter of weeks. In the face of the delta variant, every week, every day counts.

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