Parents Of Children Under 5 Disappointed And Frustrated After Pfizer’s Postponement Of Application For COVID-19 Vaccine For Age Group

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By Sabrina Franza

CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News/AP) — Parents will have to wait a little longer for COVID-19 for their toddlers after Pfizer on Friday postponed its Food and Drug Administration application for kids under 5.

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The FDA delayed a meeting about the vaccine children younger than 5, which was originally scheduled to take place next week. The agency said it wants to see more data from Pfizer before proceeding.

CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza spoke Friday with some disappointed parents who just want to get back to normal as soon as possible.

“My daughter made me this Valentine, because she said, ‘Mommy, you work so hard at your computer doing such hard work,’” said Susan Lester.

Lester is a working mom of two girls under 5. Her kids are supposed to be in daycare, but instead, they are stuck in quarantine.

“We were in back-to-back quarantine periods of 10 to 14 days,” Lester said.

Kids younger than 5 are the only age group in the U.S. that cannot yet get the vaccine. Given the recent rise in child hospitalizations amid the Omicron surge, an expert panel was expected to meet on Feb. 15 and decide if kids under 5 should start getting Pfizer’s vaccine in two doses — before data on a third possible dose was evaluated.

But now, the FDA said it believes “additional information regarding the ongoing evaluation of a third dose should be considered.”

The delay gives the agency time to consider the additional data, “allowing for a transparent public discussion as part of our usual scientific and regulatory processes for COVID-19 vaccines.”

Still, with Pfizer having withdrawn its FDA application Friday, Lester’s daughters are one step farther from getting the shot now – and more likely to land in quarantine over child care. And Lester still has to pay for child care regardless.

“My daycare charges on the monthly so for both of my kids – it’s $3,300 dollars to go,” she said.

For the first time in her life, Lester thought about leaving her job – and she’s not alone.

The National Women’s Law Center reports that since February 2020, more than 4 million jobs have been lost – and 57 percent of those who have lost those jobs are women.

That concern was much of the reason why Lester, like many other parents, was so hopeful about getting her daughters the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Sarah Pekoc is the mother of a 2-year-old girl named Olivia.

“We came home to the pandemic,” she said.

Olivia is a pandemic baby born with a congenital heart defect.

“She went through so much in her first three months of life, and all we want to do is celebrate her life,” Pekoc said.

She just wants the vaccine for her kid – to finally celebrate her birthday, and to enjoy life as a parent.

“Grieving and mourning quite a bit of loss of what they thought parenthood would look like,” Pekoc said.

So why rescind an application already pending?

“I believe they could be that they were trying to do this because of the Omicron surge,” said Nadia Qureshi, an associate professor of pediatric infectious disease at Loyola University Medical Center.

One theory, again, is that Pfizer is not quite sure about two or three doses. Qureshi said the delay could be a good thing in the long run.

“This process should reassure them that while they have to wait a little longer, everyone is making sure that their kids are going to get the vaccine, which is efficacious as well as safe,” she said.

But it is a back-and-forth that is putting even pro-vaccine parents on edge.

“I do worry about what other parents will decide, considering that there has been a lot of back-and-forth,” Pekoc said.

Both parents told Franza they still plan on giving their kids the vaccine if and when it is approved – and we are told a new application could be issued within the next six weeks.

That being said, the latest data show only 23 percent of kids ages 5 to 11 – an age group for which the vaccine has been approved – have been fully vaccinated.

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(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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