Local officials preparing for authorization of COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia health officials are preparing for the next phase of vaccination for babies and toddlers, trying to enlist more offices to offer vaccines and considering pediatric clinics.

The Food and Drug Administration has been asked to consider Pfizer's request to grant emergency use authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years.

An advisory panel to the FDA will meet to discuss Pfizer's vaccine on February 15.

Some are anxious to vaccinate the children in their lives, including Irene Pritchett of Camden, who lives with her infant niece.

There are also parents like Veronica Rios whose eligible children are not vaccinated.

SEE ALSO: Pfizer asks FDA to allow COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5
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Pfizer on Tuesday asked the U.S. to authorize extra-low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, potentially opening the way for the very youngest Americans to start receiving shots as early as March.

"I would leave the choice up to them," Rios said. "Like say in another year or so when my daughter turns 9 or 10. I think that's something that she could decide."

Nationwide, 38% of eligible children ages 5-17 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to CDC data.

As New Jersey and Philadelphia health officials prepare to vaccinate babies and toddlers, they're also working to increase the number of eligible children who are vaccinated.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole emphasized the need to not only protect kids but also those around them.

"You don't know which child in your child's class has cancer, has type 1 diabetes, has severe asthma," said Bettigole.

Action News spoke with Dr. Charles Scott, a New Jersey pediatrician with Advocare. He says some parents are anxious for the next age group to be eligible, but some parents are hesitant.

"All vaccines are safer than getting the disease and it's the same with COVID," said Scott.

He's trying to address as many concerns as possible.

"There are long-term potential things like the inflammatory disease of the heart that people worry about, but that can also happen with the disease," said Scott.
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