MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – Public health officials say vaccine rates are already low in the 12 to 17 age group. As Pfizer looks for authorization for children aged 5 to 11, these medical experts are hoping the vaccine rates will increase.

“Getting the kids vaccinated as a group is going to be one more step towards getting us back to some kind of a normal. We can get back to our lives, they can get their education, they can continue with sports and other things without worries,” said Dr. Michael Dohn, medical director of Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County.

Monday, Pfizer and BioNtech announced that in clinical trials of children aged 5 to 11, COVID-19 antibodies were formed following a second dose of the vaccine. But the dosage rate had to be altered to better serve children.

“We know that they’re not just small versions of human beings. They really have differing immune systems,” said Charles Patterson, Health Commissioner for Clark County Combined Health District. “Their immune systems are much stronger, and it looks like the dosing being recommended is one-third of that given to an adult.”

Despite these latest findings, experts still expect the process to take about two to three more months before it is officially authorized for emergency use in this age group. While they wait, these public health officials are strategizing how to distribute the vaccine to make sure the right dosage is given to the right people.

“Obviously it’s going to be a different process than it was when we were trying to do all of the adults and we’re working with our partners such as children’s hospitals and others to think about how we’re going to make this happen,” Dohn said. “The real issue is trying to get the parents to see this as something valuable just like the other vaccines that children receive.”

Meanwhile, health officials recommend parents prioritize their children’s health to protect them from sickness while they wait for the opportunity to vaccinate them against COVID-19.

“The kids need to be getting plenty of sleep and making sure they’re eating healthy and they have regular physical activity,” said Patterson. “The other thing we’re doing in schools is we’re recommending masks, because we know that that will eliminate many of the quarantines that might happen and it will help slow the spread of the virus.”