States prepare for expanded vaccine rollout to kids ages 5-11

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DENVER — In just over a week, the FDA is set to discuss Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. The news comes as Colorado’s top health officials warn that the delta variant puts children far more at risk.

Dr. Sean O’Leary, a pediatrician and pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, shared the warning during a Wednesday press briefing.

“It’s incorrect to say it [COVID-19] is benign in children,” he said.

The data to be presented by Pfizer on Oct. 26 to the FDA comes, in part, from the contributions of young Coloradans.

“We were the largest enrolling site around the world of 90 sites overall,” said Dr. Lalit Bajaj of Children’s Hospital Colorado.

This summer, Children’s Hospital Colorado enrolled more than 250 participants in Pfizer’s vaccine trial for children ages 5 to 11.

“I was so impressed. We had almost 5,000 patients apply on our on the online site expressing interest before the trial,” Bajaj said.

Liam O’Byrne, only 10 years old, was one of the participants.

“I think it made me feel really happy because I was helping a lot of people,” O’Byrne said.

“It was ultimately up to him, and he was really on board right away,” his mother added.

Between late June to the middle of July, Liam received two shots. He still doesn’t know whether he received the placebo or the vaccine.

“It’s just a tiny little needle and then your symptoms aren’t that bad,” he said.

O’Byrne’s parents kept record of his symptoms throughout the process. The young boy’s blood was drawn for antibodies after he received the shots.

Now, the research collected at Children’s Hospital Colorado is with the FDA.

Last Thursday, Pfizer reported their vaccine helped children ages 5-11 develop strong antibodies. Bajaj said this will be a crucial piece of scientific evidence to help the FDA make a decision.

“We should really trust that they have the patient’s best interest in mind,” Bajaj said.

“I think I am part of history because I was able to just help out this process,” O’Byrne said. “I’m really excited because this is going to help a lot of people.”