A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel voted unanimously, with one abstention, Oct. 26 to endorse kid-size doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 5- to 11-years-old.
In their vote, the panelists made clear that the prevention of COVID-19 in the age group outweighed any potential risks from the shot.
Although children are at a lower risk for severe COVID-19 than adults, the panelists decided it’s important to give parents the choice to vaccinate their kids — especially those who are at high risk of illness.
The FDA isn’t bound by the panel’s decision and is expected to issue its own judgment within days. If the FDA does authorize the shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will decide whether to recommend it and to which groups of children.
The Pfizer vaccine is already recommended for everyone 12 and older, and the decision to expand eligibility to those 5 and older comes as the extra-contagious delta variant increases rates in pediatric infections. Over 8,300 hospitalizations in the 5- to 11-year-old age group have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, along with nearly 100 deaths.
If the low-dose vaccines are authorized, around 28 million children would become eligible to receive a shot.