The state recommends families follow CDC guidelines with any questions or concerns.By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pfizer announced it is expanding testing of its COVID-19 vaccine in a bigger group of children under the age of 12, enrolling about 4,500 kids at sites across the U.S., Finland, Poland and Spain.

Enrollment of 5- to 11-year-olds began this week. They will receive two vaccine doses of 10 micrograms each, which is one-third of the teen and adult doses.

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Squirrel Hill mom Ilanit Helfand has two daughters, ages 8 and 6. Helfand said the masks will stay close by until her kids can roll up their sleeves.

“We definitely plan on getting them vaccinated as soon as we can,” said Helfand.

Until that happens, staying safe is a top priority.

“We are definitely being very cautious and not doing all the things we normally would have if everyone in our family is vaccinated,” said Helfand.

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Doctors at UPMC said it’s a step in the right direction.

“I fully expect children in that 5 to 11 group will do exceptionally well with a vaccine, and what that means is it will be safe for them. It will protect them and everyone around them,” UPMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Don Yealy.

However, until a shot is available for this age group, the state advises parents to stay vigilant as we head into the summer months.

“It’s important to talk to your kids about realities. Try to get outside in the summer, but it’s important to keep your mask on in interacting with anyone who might be unvaccinated,” said Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Meg Snead.

The state recommends families follow CDC guidelines with any questions or concerns.

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Pfizer hopes it will be able to submit the vaccine for potential emergency use authorization to the FDA sometime in the fall.