Combating the global pandemic, the FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for children

Sofia Ruliffson

On Oct. 29, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11-years-old. Currently, 53 percent of kids in Marin County have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; this is working towards the county’s overall goal of having 75 percent of kids vaccinated within a month of authorization, meaning in December.

According to the FDA’s approval, children ages five to 11 receive one-third the dose that adolescents and adults receive of the Pfizer vaccine. The dose was found to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 cases for kids in that age group. According to the Marin Health & Human Services, the pediatric vaccine also includes a smaller needle, but kids will still receive two doses, three weeks apart, just like older age ranges. 

Stepping up to go first, a little boy patiently waits for his vaccine while his younger sister watches the process.

Laurel Yrun is a California school nurse working in the Kentfield School District, and she has been working to inform parents about where they can get their children vaccinated. Yrun is adamant that communities should take advantage of the new vaccine availability, especially as children can still experience the harmful and fatal symptoms from COVID-19 which have caused hospitalizations to rise. 

“[Kids can encounter] a multi-system inflammatory syndrome that can develop and cause different body parts to become completely inflamed, including vital organs,” Yrun said. “[In addition, there has been] a high spike of hospitalizations among children and adolescents from June to mid-August. We were seeing more kids who weren’t vaccinated being hospitalized versus elderly [hospitalizations compared to when] the COVID-19 pandemic started.” 

To stop the spread of COVID-19 cases in kids, vaccine sites across the country opened up for the younger age group after the FDA made its approval. At the moment, children can receive their vaccines at pop-up clinics located at schools and in some doctor offices. However, local pharmacies have not been distributing the vaccines to kids. Yrun explained the reason behind this.

“CVS, Safeway [and other pharmacies] that are providing COVID-19 vaccines for people 12 and over are not doing that for the pediatric population because [children are] a little different. [For instance], to have people who are vaccinating kids [they need to] provide a safe manner so the kids aren’t afraid,” Yrun said.

Prepping the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a nurse goes through the careful process of distributing the Pfizer vaccine.

Even as vaccines for kids become more readily available with pop-up clinics, many parents still have hesitations. Ramy Ibrahim is an oncologist for cancer immunotherapy and a Redwood parent. Over the course of his medical career, Ibrahim has studied the technology behind vaccines and understands the process scientists go through during vaccine productions. Ibrahim explains why parents have hesitations with the approval of the new vaccine, but argues against their reasoning. 

“One of the main concerns some people have is that [the vaccine] is something that has been developed so fast. [It is] very new,” Ibrahim said. “[However,] we’ve been working on vaccines since the 1940s, so the technology or the approach itself is not new.”

Despite some parents’ concerns, a significant number of parents have already signed up their kids for immunization, including English teacher Danielle Kestenbaum. Kestenbaum considered both the benefits and risks that could occur from vaccinating her six-year-old child but felt confident that the vaccine could help to keep her child safe. 

“Just because it is rare [for kids to contract COVID-19] doesn’t mean getting sick from COVID is impossible. I’ll do anything to protect my children,” Kestenbaum said.

Additionally, Kestenbaum realized that it is important to take responsibility and vaccinate her child in order to protect other individuals who cannot, and therefore, are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.  

“I haven’t been taking [my child] inside; we’ve been masked, and I feel a greater responsibility to humanity by vaccinating my child. [There are] some children and adults that cannot get vaccinated for [multiple] reasons like those who are immunocompromised. Others [who] are going through cancer, or other treatments can’t get the vaccine as well,” Kestenbaum said. 

To find more information on the COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages five to 11, visit to help Marin reach the county goal of having 75 percent of kids vaccinated within a month.