The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory panel unanimously recommended on Tuesday that children between ages 5 and 11 receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The final decision regarding when children will be able to receive the vaccine could happen as soon as Wednesday, and rests with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Today is a monumental day in the course of this pandemic,” Walensky told the panel, adding, “The chances a child will have severe COVID, require hospitalization or develop a long term complication like MIS-C remains low but still the risk remains too high and too devastating to our children and far higher for many other diseases for which we vaccinate our children.”
The Food and Drug Administration signed off last week on Pfizer’s vaccine for younger children after a recommendation from its advisory panel. The proposed dose for younger children is a third of the dose given to recipients over age 12. The children would receive two shots three weeks apart.
Emergency use authorization for child doses would give Pfizer’s vaccine a head start over the other two available vaccines in the United States, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Those companies are still studying the effects of their vaccines in younger children. Researchers found no serious side effects related to the child doses of Pfizer’s shot. Usual side effects include headache and fatigue.