Kids as Young as 5 May Get Shots Next Week

FDA backs Pfizer shots for children, with final details to emerge next week
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 29, 2021 2:40 PM CDT
FDA Backs Pfizer Shots for Children
The Pfizer vaccine is packaged for children. Children ages 5 to 11 are to receive two shots, three weeks apart.   (Pfizer via AP)

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday paved the way for children ages 5 to 11 to get Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA cleared kid-size doses—just a third of the amount given to teens and adults—for emergency use, and up to 28 million more American children could be eligible for vaccinations as early as next week. One more regulatory hurdle remains, the AP reports: On Tuesday, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make more detailed recommendations on which youngsters should be vaccinated, with a final decision by the agency’s director expected shortly afterward.

"With this vaccine, kids can go back to something that's better than being locked at home on remote schooling, not being able to see their friends," said Dr. Kawsar Talaat of Johns Hopkins University. "The vaccine will protect them and also protect our communities." A few countries have begun using other COVID-19 vaccines in children under 12, including China, which just began vaccinations for 3-year-olds. But many that use the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are watching the US decision, and European regulators just began considering the companies' kid-size doses.

With the FDA's action, Pfizer plans to begin shipping millions of vials of the pediatric vaccine—in orange caps to avoid mix-ups with the purple-capped doses for everyone else—to doctors' offices, pharmacies, and other vaccination sites. Kids will get two shots, three weeks apart. While children are at lower risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 than older people, 5- to 11-year-olds still have been seriously affected, with more than 8,300 hospitalizations, about a third requiring intensive care, and nearly 100 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the FDA.

(Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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