The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in children 5 through 11, it was announced Friday.
The agency’s decision included input from independent advisory committee experts “who overwhelmingly voted in favor” of making the vaccine available to this age group, a news release said.
Pfizer’s vaccine was authorized for children 12 through 15 years of age in May of this year. Friday’s move will make Pfizer the first vaccine in the country available to children under 12.
The statement from the FDA stipulated that the vaccine is almost 91 percent effective in kids 5 through 11, creating an immune response comparable to those 16 through 25.
The FDA also said that in an “ongoing study” looking at the safety of the vaccine in approximately 3,100 children, there have been no known side effects in the younger age bracket.
The dosage for young kids is lower than that given to anyone over 12 years old, at 10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms, in hopes of lessening any potential of side effects. It is recommended that the two doses are administered three weeks apart.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet next week to plan next steps.
The FDA said Friday that children 5 through 11 make up 39 percent of COVID-19 cases in individuals younger than 18 years of age, with roughly 8,300 kids being admitted to the hospital, according to the CDC.
Of those, 691 COVID-related deaths have been reported in the U.S. in children under 18, with 146 deaths reported in the 5 through 11 age group.
“I don’t really have any concern, as a physician and an immunologist” about the safety of the Pfizer vaccine in children,” the White House’s chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN Friday. “I think it would be a good idea to vaccinate the children” when it becomes available.
The Biden administration said last week that as soon as the vaccine was approved for use by children, they would make it available at more than 25,000 pediatrician offices and primary care facilities, more than 100 children’s hospitals as well as at pharmacies and schools.
The White House said that they have purchased enough vaccine doses to inoculate the 28 million kids between 5 and 11 years old in the U.S.
“Kids have different needs than adults and our operational planning is geared to meet those specific needs, including by offering vaccinations in settings that parents and kids are familiar with and trust,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said on Oct. 20.
Though children are at a lower risk of severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19, they can still get sick and pass the virus on to others. More children have been hospitalized since the emergence of the delta variant, and as of this month, children are testing positive for COVID-19 at a disproportionately high rate. During the week of Oct. 14, those 18 and younger accounted for 25.5 percent of all cases in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, despite making up just 22.2 percent of the total population.
Regardless of if you’re pro-vax or anti-vax, the numbers show that the kids have been wearing the parents (and grandparents) OUT.