Pediatric group calls on FDA to authorize COVID-19 vaccines for kids younger than 12.

One of the nation’s top pediatric groups is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to act quickly to approve vaccines for children under 12.

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In a letter to the FDA, the American Academy of Pediatrics asked federal regulators to work “aggressively” to allow a safe vaccine in children under the age of 12, writing, “Put simply, the delta variant has created a new and urgent risk to children and adolescents in this country.”

At the moment, the COVID-19 vaccine is only allowed for children 12 years and older.

“I don’t think the vaccine can come soon enough for many parents of children (aged 5 to 11),” said Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services in Milwaukee County.

That age group of 5 to 11 years could potentially be eligible for vaccines shortly after the start of the school year.

“Right now, we’re hearing that we may see a vaccine by the end of the summer. Septemberish is what we’re hearing now from our colleagues at the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said Dr. Smriti Khare, president of primary care at Children’s Wisconsin.

From July 28 to August 3, Milwaukee County health data shows that 102 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Ten of these were children.

Nationally, experts say they are seeing the largest increase in pediatric COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.

“What we don’t want, and I’m sure the FDA won’t, is skipping one of the critical steps to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective in this population,” Weston said.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are conducting clinical trials in children ages 5 to 11 years old. Once they’ve submitted data, it’s up to the FDA to approve it for emergency use.

Pfizer is also studying the vaccine in children under the age of 5.

Data for 2 to 5 year olds could be available later this fall.

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