According to The Washington Post, Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, are expected to submit a request this week to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use authorization of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine for children ages six months old to five. It would be the first available for children under five, while shots have been available to kids five and up since last year.
They reportedly want to seek authorization for two doses while they test a possible third one. Per the New York Times, the desire to move forward with two while testing a third is in the hopes of starting to get protection to very young children sooner as opposed to waiting possibly until late spring to get authorization for all three. If parents need to wait to get three in the end, they can at least get started on getting the initial shots for their kids and have that baseline protection for them as opposed to nothing at all.
And there are parents who are more than ready. There have been parenting groups, as noted by The Washington Post, like Protect Their Future, who have been petitioning to make shots available sooner to younger age groups. And according to recent surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation, there has been an increase in parents with children under five who say they would get their child immunized right away once an authorized vaccine is available, up from 20 percent in July 2020 to 31 percent in January of 2022. There are still a number of parents who are saying “definitely not” to a vaccine for kids under five, though they’ve decreased from 30 percent in July to 26 percent in January of this year.
As a mother to a toddler, I fall in between those groups.
It’s been really hard to raise a child in the pandemic. While parents of kids of a certain age have had concerns about how the social lives and development of their school-aged children were impacted by the extended isolation required during quarantine, for very small children incapable of wearing masks or getting vaccinated, many haven’t been able to have play dates and build a social circle outside of relatives. Those who have run the risk of their child being exposed to the virus and hoping their reaction to it won’t be as bad in a time where hospitalizations of young children have increased since December.
A lack of exposure to other kids in a daycare setting hasn’t been great for my son’s overall interactions with kids or adults. He’s often most comfortable with myself and my husband — not even that comfortable with relatives he sees weekly at church — because he’s been home with us since he was born. I’ve done what I can to take him to parks to meet other kids and tried indoor play options in the fall, but those opportunities decreased substantially as the winter season has gone on and left snow behind, as well as because of Omicron’s arrival. So I’ve been hopeful for some time that there would be something available to allow him to truly interact with kids his age.
But now that there could be something, I’m becoming understanding of parents who aren’t eager to make their child the first in line to get vaccinated. There is always some fear of the unknown and of possible reactions. With that in mind, I do, in some cases, want to “wait and see” how the rollout goes whenever an option is available, but not for too long, of course. As my son prepares to turn two, I certainly want to give him as many opportunities as possible to be able to be social without the fear that’s always there when someone, young or older, gets a tad too close. The idea of normalcy isn’t feasible at this point, but I just want to make sure my boy is protected as he explores the world around him. It’s been too long.
So I’ll watch and wait and see how things go, hopeful as I do. I’ll be hopeful that as people get in line with their kids, tots and babies to get whatever vaccine will receive the green light, sharing photos on Instagram and talking about it in online parenting groups, the responses will be good and the immune response, strong. And when the time is right, I’ll join that line with my little one, too.