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What you need to know about COVID vaccines for kids under 12

According to the FDA, the Pfizer vaccine could be approved for emergency use in kids older than 5 by Halloween.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With emergency approval for a COVID vaccine for kids ages 5-11 likely right around the corner, a lot of parents are wondering have questions about getting their kids vaccinated.

WHAS11 spoke with local disease experts from Norton Children’s and UofL Health about the commonly asked question.

How are officials approving vaccines for children so quickly?

Dr. Daniel Blatt, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Norton Children’s said while some may feel the vaccines are being rushed for approval, in reality, they are not.

“Historically we have more people in this trial for the child vaccines than we do in most other vaccines,” Blatt said. “We have more data than most other childhood vaccinations and we also have a pretty long period of time that we've been doing this. we've had months of this and typically, vaccine side effects don’t come after two months after the vaccine."

Blatt said the FDA and CDC will take their time to review data from the studies and will grant emergency approval only if the science shows it is safe.

Will kids react to the vaccines differently than adults?

While Blatt said people will need to wait and see the actual hard data from the studies to know side effects of the vaccine for children, historically, kids have better outcomes from vaccines than adults.

"Often, children respond better to vaccines than adults,” Blatt said. “Often they produce a really good immune response, but it really depends on the vaccine and it depends on the child."

Looking at information on the FDA’s website, 12- to 15-year-olds experienced similar side effects as those 16 and older, such as arm soreness, fatigue, body aches and chills.

Are kids getting the same dose of the vaccine as adults?

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Burns with UofL Health said parents can expect to see children need and receive different amounts of the vaccine than adults.

"Children aren't little adults, they're children,” Burns said. “They have to determine what is the correct dose for them."

Which vaccine will those 5-11 years old get?

An email sent to WHAS11 from Pfizer’s German partner BioNTech Tuesday said the company is on track to submit its data to the FDA by the end of September.

If that’s done, FDA officials said they’ll spend a couple of weeks reviewing the data and then will decide if they should or should not grant emergency use authorization for the vaccine to be administered to that age group.

RELATED: Report: COVID vaccines for kids 5-11 could be approved by end of October

In an email sent to WHAS11, Moderna officials said they anticipate submitting their data to the FDA by the end of the year.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will also need to sign off before doctors can start giving the vaccine to kids under 12.

If both the FDA and CDC sign off and grant emergency approval for the vaccines in kids ages 5-11, both Burns and Blatt say they can start vaccinating kids the same day.

RELATED: Yes, there are treatments for children with COVID-19

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