Wharton County parents may soon have the option to get their children vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus after Pfizer requested emergency use authorization.

Pfizer announced last week it submitted an emergency request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for authorization. If approved, it will make the two-dose vaccine the first for children ages 5-11 in the U.S.

“With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against COVID-19,” Pfizer said in a statement. 

Pfizer first applied for emergency use authorization in November 2020 for its adult vaccine. The FDA granted full approval in August to the vaccine for people ages 16 and older.

Vaccine approval could help the state achieve herd immunity and bring the country one step closer to ending the pandemic. As of Oct. 9, 15.1 million Texans (51.8 percent) are fully vaccinated, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

“A vaccine is one of the most important tools we have in stopping this virus,” Wharton County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Kirkland said. “If we want to get back to normal and not deal with this anymore, it will take all of us to do our part, and that includes getting vaccinated.”

Since the start of the pandemic, 66,465 Texans have died of COVID-19. Recently, the number of deaths per day has slowed, and state cases dropped, DSHS said.

An average of 55,085 vaccine doses was given each day in the last month. Sixty-two percent of eligible Wharton County residents age 12 and over have had at least one shot, and 52.97 percent are fully vaccinated.

Wharton County parents are unsure about getting their children vaccinated. 

“I won’t be getting my kids vaccinated because there is no study on kids that young yet,” parent Stephanie Supak said. “We don’t know the side effects on kids yet.”

The request comes after months of clinical trials proved the vaccine provided the same immune response for children and adults, according to Pfizer.

The trial enrolled 4,500 American and European children ages six months to 11 years of age.

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