Uptake in age group could be low, however
The last remaining age group yet to be eligible for COVID vaccines in the U.S. is children under 5. Pfizer, with encouragement from the FDA, has applied to begin giving those children extra-low doses as soon as next month.
While young children have shown to be less susceptible to serious illness and infection than other age groups, the omicron variant has sent more children to the hospital with COVID than at any time during the pandemic. Children as young as 6 months would receive a dose one tenth the size of the adult dose. There are 19 million children under 5 in the U.S.
“I would say the parents in my office are desperate” Dr. Dyan Hes, who runs a pediatrics practice in New York City, told the Associated Press. “That’s the first thing they ask when they walk through the door: ‘When do you think the shot is going to come out?’”
That might be true in areas with high vaccination rates, but if indications from other childhood age groups hold, parents are not exactly rushing to get their kids the shots. Only about 20% of kids aged 5-11 have been vaccinated since they became eligible in early November. Slightly more than half of children aged 12-17 are vaccinated. Comparatively, almost 75% of adults have gotten jabbed. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in December found that 30% of parents of children under 5 would get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible.
In the trials Pfizer is running, children under 5 are receiving two initial doses three weeks apart, followed by a booster two months or more after the second round. An FDA panel will meet in mid-February to determine whether to approve the Pfizer shots for the youngest group.