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FDA Panel Endorses COVID Shots for Kids

Vote was 17-0, with one abstention
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2021 4:48 PM CDT
FDA Panel Endorses COVID Shots for Kids
This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium.   (Pfizer via AP)

(Newser) – The Biden administration has vaccines ready to roll for millions of children ages 5 to 11—and the plan cleared another hurdle Tuesday when a Food and Drug Administration panel endorsed the child-size doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The panel of independent vaccine advisers voted 17-0 in favor of authorizing the shot, with one abstention, Politico reports. The FDA generally follows the panel's recommendations, and shots could now be offered to around 28 million children as soon as next week, per the New York Times.

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The panel endorsed a vaccine dose a third the size of that given to people over 12, with two doses administered three weeks apart. If the FDA approves the shots for children as expected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's own panel of experts will make a recommendation next week on the shots, the AP reports. During Tuesday's hearing, data was presented showing that children 5 to 11 are at least as likely as adults to become infected. Regulators said more than 8,000 child COVID patients have been hospitalized and almost 100 have died during the pandemic, making the virus one of the top ten causes of death in the 5 to 11 age group.

The panel debated whether the vaccine should be offered to all children in the age group or only to those at severe risk. Panelist Dr. Paul Offit, head of Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said it was "nerve wracking" to make the huge decision based on a Pfizer study with only a few thousand participants, the Times reports. "The question is when do you know enough? And I think we certainly know that there are many children between 5 and 11 years of age who are susceptible to this disease who could very well be sick and are hospitalized or die from it, " he said. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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