Local News Editor
Children aged 5 to 11 are now eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19, following a decision by director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky to sign off on an expert panel’s recommendation on Nov 3. About 28 million children are newly eligible for the shots under the emergency authorization order. Doctors can begin vaccinating children ages 5 through 11 as soon as possible, according to a CDC press release; young kids began receiving their shots as early as last week.
The vaccine is the same as the adult version of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot with one notable exception: dosage level. Children in the under-11 age group will receive a smaller dose than those in the older age group at one-third of the adult dose, or 10-micrograms in each of the two shots.
In a written statement, President Joe Biden called the approval “a turning point in our battle against COVID-19.” Presidential adviser Jeffrey Zients told reporters that the Biden Administration ordered enough doses to inoculate all 28 million American children in the newly approved age group. The administration’s distribution system will be “fully operational” the week of Nov. 8, he said. Distributors will have shipped about 15 million doses after just one week.
In clinical trials, which included over 3,000 children aged 5 to 11 who received the vaccine, researchers found the shot to be 90.7 percent successful in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. The most common reactions in the trials were pain at the injection site, fatigue, and headache. A majority of the reactions were mild to moderate with no seriously adverse side effects associated with the vaccine taking place.
While some may be under the impression that vaccination for children is unnecessary, the CDC states that “COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes) and long-term complications, such as ‘long COVID,’ in which symptoms can linger for months.” COVID demonstrated its danger to the age group over the past year, ranking in the top ten leading causes of death for children ages 5-11. Since March Of 2020, 1.9 million children ages 5-11 years have been diagnosed with the virus. COVID certainly proves less fatal for the age group, but children have a similar likelihood of contracting it to adults. According to Dr. Sara Oliver of the CDC, models show that vaccinations of the newly approved children starting this month could prevent around 600,000 cases of COVID-19 by next March.
(Sources: CDC, NPR, AAP, USA Today)