On Tuesday night, U.S. regulators officially authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11. Earlier in the day, an advisory panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously recommended the vaccine, less than a week after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the shot last Friday. On Tuesday night, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also gave her approval. As a result, coronavirus vaccines will available for 28 million children in the United States starting this week — pending the approval of the highest authority: parents.
Both the FDA and the CDC authorized a regiment of two 10-milligram doses, smaller than the standard 30-milligram dose received by those 12 years and older, which will be administered three weeks apart.
The White House has said the doses should be widely available starting next week. “The program will still be ramping up to its full strength, with millions more doses packed, shipped, and delivered, and thousands of additional sites coming online each day,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said Monday. In some places, appointments could become available as early as the end of this week.
According to FDA data given to the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee last Tuesday, children ages 5 to 11 make up around 9 percent of all coronavirus cases in the United States; in the past six weeks, the number of confirmed COVID cases in children has shot up by over 1.1 million. Panel members also suggested that providing shots for kids could push the country toward an “endemic” phase, wherein the virus exists among others as a largely seasonal, much less fatal disease.
This post has been updated.