Pfizer says vaccine is safe and effective for 5 to 11-year-olds, waits final approval

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Medical leaders from 21 of Michigan's top health care institutions issued an open letter to the public on Wednesday, pleading with people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. They warned Michigan appears to be heading into a fourth COVID-19 surge with a rise in cases that they contend could be avoided if everyone got vaccinated.

When family physician Ronald Greer saw Pfizer and BioNTech's study results for children ages 5 to 11, he immediately told his 11-year-old daughter. 

She had questions, but one stuck out to Greer. 

"Does this mean we'll be able to go to nana's?" she asked. 

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Greer's family used to go on a vacation with his parents and in-laws every summer. They used to have large family gatherings around the holidays and for birthdays. COVID-19 made that go away. But a family Thanksgiving celebration might be around the corner. 

The study, which was released Monday, found that the COVID-19 vaccine was "safe, well tolerated and showed robust neutralizing antibody responses." The children in the trial were given two vaccines 21 days apart with one-third of the dose administered to people 12 and older. 

Data will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies immediately, the release said. In the United States, the companies are expecting to submit the data for Emergency Use Authorization. 

Since the pandemic began, Greer has addressed concerns from his patients who were, or may still be, hesitant to get the vaccine. Inflammation of the heart muscle, known as myocarditis, a rare reaction most commonly found in adolescent males had been a concern for some of his patients. He still said it was worth getting the vaccine. 

"When you compare it to the potential complications from having COVID itself, it doesn't compare," Greer said. 

Greer will begin recommending the vaccine to the parents of his patients that fall in that age category once the FDA gives final approval of its usage. He said it's a step in the right direction to hopefully ending the pandemic. 

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— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.