The Centers for Disease Control’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously voted on Tuesday to authorize Pfizer’s COVID shot for children as young as 5 years old.
Data suggests that kids are at lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than from the seasonal flu, but that didn’t stop CDC Director Rochelle Walensky from asking the advisers on the committee to vote yes to approving a low-dose version of the Pfizer shot to be administered to children twice beginning as early as this week.
“We also know that beyond the clinical impact of COVID on children, there have been detrimental social and mental health impacts that we are just beginning to fully understand,” Walensky said. “It is our ongoing responsibility to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated and protected from COVID 19.”
As of Tuesday, CDC data stated that approximately 172 children ages 5 to 11 have died from COVID-19, and approximately 8,300 were hospitalized while testing positive. While only one flu-related death was reported last year when many kids were deprived of in-person and/or mask-free learning, the CDC website concedes that the seasonal flu infects “millions of children” each year and was responsible for thousands of hospitalizations and 199 pediatric deaths in the 2019-2020 season.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the shot for children aged 5-11 on Friday just weeks after both the federal agencies approved the shot for young teens. The FDA claimed that a study conducted by Pfizer-BioNTech indicated the jab was almost 91 percent effective at stopping COVID-19 symptomatic infections in kids, but one member of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee admitted he wasn’t sure if the benefits of approving a COVID shot for kids outweighed the side effects and risks that could come with the jab.
“Based on the totality of scientific evidence available, do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine when administered as a 2-dose series … outweigh its risks for use in children 5-11 years of age?” one of the voting questions asked.
“We’re never going to learn about how safe the vaccine is until we start giving it,” he replied.
The Biden administration, which suffered a reputational blow after the FDA rejected its booster shot plan, has already begun to purchase and ship the low doses for children across the nation.
“We are not waiting on the operations and logistics,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said in a statement.