Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for children ages 5 to 11 by the end of October, according to the former head of the Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a member of Pfizer's board of directors, said in an interview with "Face the Nation" that the drug company expects to have data on its vaccinations in young children by the end of September, which will be filed with the FDA "very quickly."
The agency then stated that it will take weeks, rather than months, to decide whether or not to approve the vaccine for the specified age group.
"In a best-case scenario, given that timeline they've just laid out, you could potentially have a vaccine available to children aged 5 to 11 by Halloween," Gottlieb said.
Pfizer has been testing its two-dose vaccine in children ages 2 and beyond in clinical trials, and its approval might be critical in combating the highly infectious Delta variant in schools. COVID-19 infections in children account for 25% of all new infections.
It expects to get data from children 6 months to 2 years old in October or November.
The decision to vaccinate younger children comes amid mounting pressure to manage an outbreak of illnesses caused by the Delta variant, which has hampered attempts to get schools back in session.
Gottlieb believes the injections will someday be compulsory for children in public schools.
Chief Medical Advisor to the President Anthony Fauci said that Moderna will take three weeks longer to gather data for the same age group. He estimated that a decision would be made in November.
Vaccination with Pfizer's vaccine is currently available to children ages 12 and up.
Moderna's vaccine is only approved for individuals aged 18 and above, but the company has submitted an emergency use authority with the FDA for those ages of 12 and up.
While the FDA is anticipated to make a judgment on whether or not to approve COVID vaccinations for children in the coming weeks, federal health authorities are also considering whether or not to approve booster injections for those who have already been vaccinated.
The Biden administration first announced in August that booster shots will be available the week of Sep. 20, and that Americans would need to obtain them eight months after having their second vaccination dose.