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100 central NY kids studied in Pfizer COVID vaccine trial, could be approved by Thanksgiving


Pfizer reports this week, studies of its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 show it is safe and effective. One Syracuse expert expects if federal approval comes through, kids could be eligible for vaccinations by Thanksgiving.

Dr. Joseph Domachowske is a pediatric infectious disease expert at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. He said this is good news towards getting younger children vaccinated for COVID-19.

“This is just a first step, but ultimately later this fall, we expect this to become available," Domachowske said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech research shows a 10 microgram dose of the vaccine, administered 21 days apart, generated a strong immune response among children in research that included 100 kids from central New York.

"We had so many families asking for participation that enthusiasm and interest is high, even as part of a clinical trial,” Domachowske said. “And I’m hearing from parents, especially now that school started, that everyone is eager that kids are vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Domachowske said this development has wide-ranging impacts, from letting schools loosen COVID restrictions, to allowing children to be more comfortable around vulnerable family members. Perhaps most importantly though, Domachowske said this will stop the spread of a multi-system inflammatory illness, which can strike children after they’ve had a COVID infection.

"That’s where I think the true benefit of this vaccine lies for the individuals themselves,” Domachowske said. “We will no longer see these so common cases coming in the hospital with these inflammatory post-infection problems that are somewhat difficult to control, and take some time to cool down."

Domachowske said more children come to the hospital for these post-COVID infections rather than COVID itself. Currently, COVID vaccinations are cleared for use for children as young as 12. Results of studies of the vaccine’s impact on children aged six months to a year, are expected in another month or so.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.