Pfizer said Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is effective for children ages 5 to 11, and that it will seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon. The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech already is available for anyone 12 and older. For elementary school-aged kids, Pfizer tested a much lower dose, equal to a third of the amount that’s in each shot given now.  However after their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults said Dr. Bill Gruber, a Pfizer senior vice president. The children’s dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or lethargy — that teens experience, he said.  Dr. Gruber said the companies aim to apply to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month for emergency use in this age group, followed shortly afterward with applications to European and British regulators.

While kids are at lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, more than 5 million children in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began and at least 460 have died, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Cases in children have risen dramatically as the Delta variant swept through the country.

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