CDC panel unanimously recommends Pfizer Covid vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 in critical step toward clearance

A nurse administers a dose to a little girl at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Lyman High School, Longwood. This was the day before classes start for the 2021-22 school years.
After a crucial CDC panel unanimously voted Tuesday in favor of Pfizer's recommendations for doses for younger children, Covid-19 is now available to children aged 5-11 years old.

The final decision rests now with Dr. Rochelle Walsky, CDC Director. She is expected to accept recommendations from the agency's Advisory Committee on Immunizing Practices. Vaccinations for young children could start immediately after she signs off (expected as early as Tuesday).

Parents are counting down to when U.S. regulators will clear the shot so that their children can resume "normal" learning and sports after the pandemic.

Children will receive the vaccine in lower doses than adults and teens.

Just before the vote, Dr. Camille Kotton, a member of the committee, stated that too many children have lost a parent or become orphaned by this pandemic. As an infectious disease specialist, and as a mother who has vaccinated her two children, I fully support the recommendation of this vaccine for this age group.

Walensky informed the committee that although children are less likely to be affected by severe cases of Covid than adults, a small number of them do. According to data provided by the CDC, at least 2,316 children aged 5-11 years old have been diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome for children (MIS-C), a rare, but serious, Covid-related complication.

According to Dr. Matthew Daley, a CDC advisor, Covid has been linked to at least 1.9million deaths in this age group. There have also been 8,300 hospitalizations and at most 94 deaths. He said that the burden of the pandemic goes beyond just counting cases. Covid has also caused school closures across the country.

Walensky stated that "the chances of a child having severe Covid, needing hospitalization, or developing a long-term complication such as MIS-C remain low." "But, still, the risk remains too high. It is too devastating for our children. The risk is also much higher for many other diseases that we vaccinate children for."

According to the Food and Drug Administration's last week published scenario, fully vaccinating 1,000,000 children ages 5-11 would prevent 58,000 Covid infection, 241 hospitalizations, and one death. According to the agency, vaccine-induced myocarditis would affect up to 106 children but most of them would recover.

Friday's emergency approval was granted by the FDA. Monday's White House announcement stated that the White House began moving 15 million doses from Pfizer’s facilities and freezers to distribution centers. Biden's administration stated that it has enough vaccine to cover all 28 million children aged 5-11 years in the U.S. It will distribute it in smaller doses and with smaller needles so it is easier for pharmacists and pediatricians to administer to children.

Jeff Zients, White House coronavirus coordinator, stated Monday that the children's vaccination program will officially start the week of November 8. "Parents will have the ability to make appointments at sites that they trust and know to get their children vaccinated.

Pfizer, who developed the vaccine in collaboration with BioNTech said Tuesday that its clinical trial with kids aged 5-11 found that the shots were well-tolerated. The most common side effects were mild and comparable with those seen in trials of teenagers and adults 16-25 years old. According to the CDC, common side effects in teens and adults include nausea, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain and chills.

Federal regulators announced last week that they are monitoring for rare conditions of heart inflammation, myocarditis or pericarditis. These conditions have been reported in very few young adults who had received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Officials said that although there were no myocarditis cases in the Pfizer trial for children, it was possible that the trial was too small to detect this rare condition.

According to Dr. Matthew Oster, a pediatric cardiologist at the CDC, the condition is less common in children aged 5-11 than it is in teenagers.

Oster stated that there are many physiological mechanisms and reasons why this is, but nothing has been proved. "One of the most popular thoughts is that hormones certainly play a role in testosterone.