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COVID-19 Vaccine for Younger Kids Is on the Runway

FDA and CDC may soon authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids, ages 5 to 11. That extends the protection for families.
COVID-19 Vaccine for Younger Kids Is on the Runway
Asian Little child having Injection, Close-up Doctor injecting vaccination to arm of little girl her smile face and looking camera , vaccine injection for immunization health and medical concept

Last year at this time, we were all eagerly awaiting emergency use approval of COVID-19 vaccines. After nearly a year of roll-out, controversy and evaluation, the data indicate that every vaccine approved under emergency use authorization has worked well. They all prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19, even among older adults. Children as young as 12 have also benefited from vaccination. Will the COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids now being considered provide similar protection?

COVID-19 Vaccine for Younger Kids:

The FDA recently hosted an expert advisory panel, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, to consider whether to recommend the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech for children 5 to 11 years old. The panel did agree, with one abstention, that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks for these youngsters.

Committee Deliberations Got Complicated:

Even though they agreed on the value of the vaccine, some members were annoyed with the FDA. The agency did not wish the panel to discuss who within that age group might benefit most from COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids. Others wanted to explore mandates for vaccination, but that too was off the table. The panel wanted the vaccine to become available for medically vulnerable children. Members want to ensure that kids are protected from severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID.

How Good Is the COVID-19 Vaccine for Younger Kids?

Data from the trial indicate that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for younger kids is 90 percent effective. There were 3 cases of COVID among the 3,000 vaccinated children and 16 cases among the 1,500 kids who got placebo shots. None of the children developed severe COVID. Approximately 40 percent of the participants had been infected prior to the vaccine trial. Side effects included fatigue, headache and sore arms. Most went away after a few days. Several panel members underscored the importance of pediatricians and parents making the decision whether a child should be vaccinated.

Dr. Oveta Fuller of the University of Michigan told MedPage,

“We want to make the option available for what it might do to help the children as well as others in this pandemic.”

The next step in making the shots available for children 5 to 11 years old is for the CDC to consider these recommendations. That meeting will take place the first week of November, 2021.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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