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Pfizer announced Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in kids ages five to 11 and the company now plans to submit the vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency-use authorization for the younger age group.

Pfizer said early results show the company’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe for elementary school-age children. COVID-19 vaccines are currently only available to kids ages 12 and older.

“I think that we’ve all been waiting for a vaccine for kids because it’s an important population to keep safe, the numbers are tremendous and we know that the best way out of this pandemic is the vaccine,” said Dr. Lia Gaggino.

Gaggino is a Kalamazoo-area pediatrician who has been practicing for over 30 years.

In Michigan, schools continue to see outbreaks, even where county mask mandates are in place. On Monday, the state reported 98 new coronavirus outbreaks tied to Michigan schools.

“We went from about 9-10% of the cases being in kids under 18, and now we’re at about a quarter of those cases in kids under 18,” said Kayleigh Blaney, deputy health officer in Genesee County.

Right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s transmission map shows community transmission of COVID-19 is considered “high” for all Michigan counties except Sanilac.

State data also shows the virus is infecting kids at an increasing rate since school started.

“Obviously, the hope is that with mask use we were hoping that we could avoid any type of transition back to virtual learning. But as the amount of the population increases that has vaccine, the more individuals that have that extra protection, the less cases that we’ll see,” said Blaney.

Health officials say if elementary school-age children could get vaccinated against COVID-19, it would help reduce case rates in kids and help keep children in school buildings for in-person learning.

“We’ve had about 500 deaths in children and one death is one too many, especially when we have something that can keep our kids safe,” said Gaggino.

According to Pfizer, the two-dose vaccine would be administered to kids ages five to 11 in smaller doses.

So far, the Pfizer trial’s results have not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.