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Reports say Pfizer vaccine for children under 5 could be ready by month's end

Sara LeMaster spent most of January in quarantine with her 18-month-old son, who was exposed to COVID-19 multiple times at his child care center. She said the minute her son can get the COVID vaccine, they’ll be first in line.

“If I can vaccinate my child and send him to day care, then I know that I’ve done everything that I can to protect him and to protect his classmates,” LeMaster said.

NPR is reporting that a Pfizer vaccine for children under 5 years old may soon be considered for emergency use authorization. If approved by the FDA, the vaccine could be available before the end of the month, which is much earlier than previously expected.

LeMaster and her husband both work from their Windsor home. She said it’s challenging trying to work and care for her son at the same time. She understands concerns about having a vaccine for young children, but it could be the answer for returning to “normalcy.”

“The reality is that we don’t know what the next variant is going to do. We’re still at the mercy of this virus,” LeMaster said. “But if I could do something to help protect my child and protect the community that’s around us, then I absolutely am going to do it.”

Child care providers said if the FDA approved the vaccine, it would be a big deal.

For one, an available vaccine would remove barriers for working families, said Monette Ferguson, executive director of the Alliance for Community Empowerment, a Bridgeport-based nonprofit that fights poverty.

“I can only imagine how that would alleviate the hearts and the trauma of parents and providers, and communities in general if this option was available,” she said. “I think it really opens up the doors for more enrollment for our children.”

The pandemic has presented child care centers with a lot of challenges, such as forced closures and staff shortages. But at the end of the day, Ferguson said the families’ needs are what’s important.

“Although we’re a necessary entity in the community, we can’t discount the fear and the trauma that came along with this pandemic, so options are wonderful for parents,” she said. “And the more options we have and the more information and education we can get out there in a smart way, I think we’ll begin to see enrollment increase.”

Jessica Soba Davila, a human resources assistant at the Alliance for Community Empowerment, said it’s all about getting good information and having a choice. The most important thing for her is to understand how the vaccine could affect her 4-year-old daughter who does go to day care.

“If I were to be able to get more information on how it would affect us, you know, and if it is FDA-approved, then I would be more inclined to [decide] to get her vaccinated,” she said.

The FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5 through 11 years old in October.

Catherine Shen is a Connecticut Public’s education reporter. The Los Angeles native comes to CT Public after a decade of print and digital reporting across the country.

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