On Tuesday, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel recommended a low dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccine for children aged between 5 and 11, according to CNBC.
The panel’s recommendation is a crucial step in getting nearly 28 million American kids protected against the virus as the Delta variant continues to spread.
The FDA will now consider the panel’s recommendation and could issue a final decision within a few days.
Next week, a vaccine advisory group at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to make its own recommendation. If the agency issues it, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky will give the green signal to distribute the vaccine among young kids.
The Biden administration said it has procured enough doses to vaccinate nearly 28 million American children aged between 5 and 11, planning to roll out smaller doses immediately after approval from the FDA and CDC.
Some panel members said that vaccinating younger people would help the nation move toward COVID’s “endemic” phase, as the virus is still circulating but at a lower level. But others expressed concerns over side effects, such as myocarditis in younger kids. However, they still emphasized that the benefits of the shots outweighed the risks.
Committee member Dr. Amanda Cohn said, “We don’t want children to be dying from COVID, even if it is far fewer children than adults, and we don’t want them in the ICU.”
Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s top vaccine regulator, asked panel members to keep the debate “civil,” saying there were strong feelings on both sides.
He said, “To be clear, today’s discussion is going to be about the scientific data that are presented, and it’s not about vaccine mandates, which are left to other entities outside of FDA. I ask that we keep our discourse today civil and focus on the science related to this issue so that we can get through a productive discussion.”
Dr. Doran Fink, Deputy Director of the FDA’s Division of Vaccines, said a “small army” of FDA staff worked around the clock over the last month to ensure the data on kids they were presenting today was as accurate as possible, per CNBC.
According to that FDA staff’s analysis, a smaller dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine appears to be safe and highly effective in young kids. The story first appeared on CNBC News.