By Marissa Armas

DENVER (CBS4)– On Thursday, Pfizer and BioNTech officially asked the U.S. for FDA authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Some question whether the expanded vaccines will help with the outbreaks at Colorado schools.

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Dr. Reginald Washington, the chief medical officer for the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, said it’s definitely going to help, but it’s not going to eliminate the virus.

“This is good news because this will put another tool in our toolbox for fighting the COVID pandemic,” Washington said. “It’s not a cure all, it’s just another tool we can use.”

Nationally, children make up more than a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases and new research shows more than 140,000 children have lost a caregiver to the virus.

Schools in Colorado make up nearly one-third of all COVID-19 outbreaks in the state. Earlier this week, parents at Willow Creek Elementary learned of an outbreak at the school, after the entire 5th grade class was exposed during a class trip. And on Wednesday, a similar situation at Lenski Elementary in Littleton. Littleton district officials told CBS4, it’s a kindergarten class at the school. They’ll learn remotely for at least 10 days.

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But Dr. Washington said even if the FDA authorizes the vaccine for kids, it doesn’t mean we won’t still see outbreaks at schools.

“Because we don’t know how many kids are going to actually take the vaccine. We know in the 12-18 age group, it’s still only about 40-50% of kids who are actually receiving the vaccine,” he said.

The FDA authorization for kids likely won’t come until the end of October. Washington said no matter what age group gets approval for the vaccine, the longer COVID-19 is around in any age group, the more likely the virus will continue to mutate. He said in the future kids will likely need a booster shot as well.

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“So the sooner we can get it out of all communities, the better off we’re going to be,” said Washington.

Marissa Armas