A CDC advisory panel Tuesday unanimously approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, paving the way for an estimated 28 million young kids to get the jab starting as soon as this week.
The panel of doctors and public-health experts forming the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the move after the FDA cleared the immunization for emergency use in the age group Friday.
“If I had a grandchild. I would certainly get that grandchild vaccinated as soon as possible,” said panel member Dr. Beth Bell, ABC News reporter Anne Flaherty tweeted.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky was expected to swiftly give final approval to the shot.
The vaccine is the first OK’d for children in the age group, delivering a third of the dosage given to adults in each of two shots doled out three weeks apart.
The Biden administration said Monday that millions of the kiddie shots were being prepped ahead of the CDC meeting in anticipation that the vaccine would be broadly recommended by the panel.
A nationwide push to get the vaccine into youngsters’ arm is expected to be in full swing by next week, with some shots to be ready in just days.
“We are not waiting on the operations and logistics,” the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, Jeff Zients, told reporters Monday.
The US has enough supply of the vaccine for all 28 million US children between the ages of 5 and 11, Zients said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, has said that pending regulatory hurdles, the Pfizer vaccine would be available for the young age group within the first two weeks of November.
It has already been approved for people ages 12 and up, while Modern and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines have been authorized for those 18 and older.
Some health-care providers in Wisconsin said the kiddie doses could be available there as soon as Wednesday, although Thursday was more likely, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. About 500,000 children in the state instantly became eligible to get the shot with the CDC panel’s ruling, according to the report.
While kids have a lower risk of becoming severely ill or dying from the coronavirus, more than 8,300 5- to 11-year-olds have been hospitalized in the country with it — and a third of them needed intensive care, according to data Friday. A reported 146 COVID-19 deaths in that group have occurred, according to the FDA.
“I’ve seen plenty of children in this age group that have been seriously ill,” Dr. Matthew Linam of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said Tuesday. “The risk of significant infection is still very real in this population.”
Pfizer has said a study found its vaccine for the younger kids is nearly 91 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infections.
With Post Wires