HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to11 could be closer to reality after Pfizer released data showing its vaccine is safe and effective in that age group.

“I’m optimistic given the preliminary reports in terms of safety and efficacy of the vaccine,” said Dr. Jose Campo Maldonado, Infectious Disease Specialist at Valley Baptist Medical Center and UTRGV.

The FDA and CDC still need to sign off on the Pfizer vaccine before it becomes available to children ages 5 to 11. 

“They need to review and they are going to take at least one month from that time to give a response. I would expect just maybe at the end of next month,” said Dr. Maldonado.

While the public waits for its approval, Dr. Maldonado said there is still worry and hesitancy among parents.

“Some people may say there is safety data but I want to see what happens first when everyone starts getting it before I get it, and others will see it differently and say ‘hey I think I need my children protected right away’,” he said.

Pfizer announced a smaller dose of its vaccine for kids 5 to 11 that would be given in two shots. Doctors are hopeful once it is approved it will lower hospitalization numbers. 

“I think it’s going to help the adults because these kids are taking the bug home and we have seen a rise in adult ICU admissions right now, so I think it’s going to help the entire community of all age groups,” said Dr. Yesroon Patel, Pediatrician at Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville.

Pfizer also announced it is expecting to release trial data for children as young as 6 months old by the end of the year. Health experts said in the meantime, the best thing parents can do to protect their children is to get themselves vaccinated and to continue wearing masks in public.