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CDC approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11 years old

Nov 02, 2021

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The path to approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11 years old hit the home stretch Tuesday. An influential panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the vaccine just days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the vaccine for that age group.

“Today is a monumental day in the course of this pandemic,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told the advisory panel Tuesday. She gave final approval Tuesday night. The video above shows her comments during debate, as well as the final vote.

The U.S. government and Pfizer have both been preparing for the CDC to give the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine the go-ahead to be used in kids 5-11 years old. Last month, the White House announced it had already secured the doses required to vaccinate all 28 million kids in that age group.

“Governors and leaders of tribes and territories have been working with their teams to ensure that doses are distributed efficiently and equitably across their jurisdictions,” White House COVID Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing Monday.

Pfizer has gotten ready as well, packing and shipping millions of its COVID-19 vaccine doses the company hopes will be used on kids 5-11 years old. The video above also shows some of that progress being made over the weekend.

“Over the next couple of days, several million doses will start arriving at local pediatricians and family doctors’ offices, pharmacies, children’s hospitals, community health centers, rural health clinics and other locations,” Zients said Monday. “More doses will be packed and shipped and delivered each and every day over the next week or so, and more and more sites will come online as we ramp up.”

The risk of severe disease is lower in young children than adults. However, there have been more than 8,300 hospitalizations of kids ages 5 to 11, with about a third requiring intensive care. The CDC has recorded at least 94 deaths in that age group.

On Tuesday, Dr. Walensky highlighted the social, mental health and educational impact COVID-19 has had on kids in that age group.

“There are children in the second grade who have never experienced a normal school year,” Walensky said. “Pediatric vaccination has the power to help us change all of that.”

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Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director: “Today is a monumental day in the course of this pandemic and one that many of us have been very eager to see. Ever since your vote on December 12th last year recommending COVID-19 vaccination for those 16 and older, we have been asking when we will be able to expand the protection to our younger children. In the nearly 12 months that have passed since that vote, we have learned a tremendous amount both about COVID-19 disease and the vaccines that combat it. And today you have the opportunity to review those data, discuss the benefits of expanded vaccination, consider the risks and make a recommendation that is likely to have tremendous impact. As you review the data today, it will be key to keep in mind the specific risk to children from this virus and this pandemic.”

“For almost two full years, school has been fundamentally changed. There are children in the second grade who have never experienced a normal school year. There are students in middle school who missed out on school sports and extracurricular activities. There are missed proms and homecoming dances and too many missed graduations. We have watched as the education gaps that exist in this country have widened, as this virus has disproportionately impacted racial and ethnic minority communities. Pediatric vaccination has the power to help us change all of that and to let us move toward schools as we once knew it and hope it can be a safe and enriching environment for all of our children. I also think that I share with your perspective that pediatric vaccination is just one important piece to the puzzle. It is important that we also continue to vaccinate as many adults as possible to provide protection to children in the community, including those younger than five who may not be eligible yet for vaccination.”

Dr. Sara Oliver, CDC, reading voting question: “Should vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which is two doses of 10 micrograms given IM be recommended for children 5 through 11 years of age under an emergency use authorization?”

Dr. Grace Lee, committee chair: “So we have a total of 14 yeses, zero nos, and so the motion passes, and the interim recommendation is now a recommendation by the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices).”


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