CDC director signs off on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11

The U.S. is prepared to roll out doses to kids as soon as tomorrow.

On November 2, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the unanimous recommendation from the agency’s advisory panel to administer Pfizer’s  vaccine to children ages five to 11. The decision comes just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the vaccine.

“We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Walensky said in a statement. "As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated.”

Now that Walensky has given her approval, the U.S. will be able to begin distributing doses immediately. The Biden administration has already laid out its plan to roll out the vaccine for kids by working with pediatricians, children’s hospitals, school clinics, and other health care centers. 

Members of the CDC advisory committee expressed their strong support for vaccinating children in this age group during a meeting earlier in the day, emphasizing that the benefits of protecting kids from COVID-19 infections clearly outweighs the risks of side effects from the vaccine. Speaking directly to the public listening in on the video call, several members mentioned that they were eager to administer the vaccines to their own children and grandchildren.

“I think the data supports that we have one more vaccine that saves the lives of children,” said Sarah Long, professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine. 

“We all have a responsibility to make this vaccine available to children and to their parents,” said Beth Bell, clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington. “I think this is a huge step forward for children and parents.”

Pfizer’s vaccine for children in this age group is a lower dose than the one being administered to adults. Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is 90.7 percent effective at preventing symptomatic disease in kids ages five to 11. An analysis of Pfizer’s clinical trials of 2,268 participants, released by the FDA on Friday, also showed that none of the participants reported cases of severe disease or the COVID-19-related multi-inflammatory syndrome that has been seen in children.

Stay up to date and read more on the latest vaccine developments here.

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