Pfizer and BioNTech announced Thursday that it has requested an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11, which would protect more than 28 million people 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.
“We’re committed to working with the FDA with the ultimate goal of helping protect children against this serious public health threat.”
Pfizer has suggested a one-third dose for children, which would require either dilution or a new syringe entirely. The second dose would be administered three weeks after the first, as with adults.
The vaccine has already been approved for those 12 and older.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, almost 5.9 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, or about 16% of all cases.
Severe illness caused by COVID-19 is rare among children, but not impossible: of about 500 Americans under the age of 18 who have died so far, about 125 were between 5 and 11. Doctors and scientists are still concerned about the long-term effects of non-fatal COVID as well.
Cases have continued to rise among children recently as in-person school has resumed nationwide. For the week ending on Sept. 30, more than 173,000 new child cases were reported, accounting for almost 27% of all cases in the country.
Pfizer is scheduled to meet with the FDA on Oct. 26 to review the data.