2021 | Coronavirus

UPDATED: Health official says pediatric COVID-19 vaccines could start in early November

Pfizer, BioNTech have asked FDA for emergency use of vaccine for ages 5 to 11

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A Montgomery County health official said Wednesday that the authorization of pediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines in the county could start in early November.

The county’s federal partners are scheduled to discuss the pediatric vaccine for kids ages 5 through 11 on Oct. 26, Sean O’Donnell, the public health emergency manager for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on Wednesday.

“We’re hoping they’ll make a recommendation around that time. And then our (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) panel at the CDC will give recommendations of how to go about that,” he said.

Pfizer announced on Sept. 28 that it had submitted data on the pediatric vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration for initial review on the vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.

Pfizer posted Thursday morning on Twitter that it and BioNTech have asked the FDA to allow emergency use of the vaccine for ages 5 to 11.

O’Donnell said the pediatric vaccines would be separate dosages given to local health departments, hospitals and other providers.

“They’re telling us that we can’t use our current Pfizer vaccine. It will be a different dosage for the younger individuals, and it will be sent under different packaging,” he said.

O’Donnell said the current timetable for availability of the pediatric Pfizer vaccine in the county is expected to be the first or second week of November.

O’Donnell added that the federal government is scheduled to issue guidance on booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines this month. Direction from the CDC and the state to county officials will follow, he said.

As of Tuesday, 89.5% of Montgomery County residents were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

O’Donnell said on Wednesday that those who aren’t fully vaccinated make up more than half of the COVID-19 cases in the past week and 65% of hospitalizations.

“It’s still important for those groups to get vaccinated,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com