CDC Panel Votes To Recommend Pfizer Vaccine For Kids Aged 5-11

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) panel of vaccine experts voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted 14-0 after a full day of deliberation and data review Tuesday to recommend the vaccine for all kids in the 5-11 age group. Now, the recommendation will go to the office of CDC director Rochelle Walensky for final approval, at this point the vaccine will become widely available for tens of millions of young children in the United States.

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for kids 5-11 last week after the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine panel determined that the reward of vaccinating young kids was greater than the risk. Side effects for young kids in Pfizer’s trials were similar to those for individuals aged 12 and up, who have had access to the vaccine for months. According to data reviewed by the FDA and CDC, the risk of developing myocarditis and other side effects from the vaccine is lower than the risk posed by COVID-19, even to young children who generally suffer from milder cases than adults.

The ACIP reviewed data that suggested nearly 40% of kids in the 5-11 age group had already contracted COVID-19. The panel recommended that all kids receive a two-dose series of the vaccine, even though some experts have argued that kids who have obtained natural immunity may be sufficiently protected with just one dose. The dose of vaccine for ages 5-11 is only one-third the amount of the dose for individuals 12 and older. (RELATED: Vaccinating Kids Isn’t The Way To End The Pandemic, Experts Say)

In addition to evaluating the risk-reward of the vaccine versus catching COVID-19, several ACIP members argued that vaccinating kids will reduce community transmission and make it easier for schools to function normally as the pandemic goes on. The ACIP also reviewed survey data which indicated that only one-third to one-half of parents say they plan to get their 5 to 11-year-old kids vaccinated.