An FDA advisory committee is meeting starting Tuesday as it decides if about 28 million children could become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
How soon could kids ages 5-11 get a COVID vaccine? Possibly by November, but the FDA and CDC must sign off on it.
On Tuesday, Oct. 26, the FDA panel is scheduled to meet to discuss whether to authorize the Pfizer vaccine for children 5-11. The vaccine maker requested emergency use authorization for its COVID vaccine in children ages 5 to 11 earlier this month.
“It will protect them. Obviously it’s also going to add population immunity to our broader population and help bring infection numbers down,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean at Brown University’s School of Public Health. “It is going to be one more important step toward getting to the end of this pandemic.”
Children make up about 1/4 of all COVID cases in the United States. Nationwide data shows COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all declining. Health experts point to the vaccine.
“We add children to the mix and we can get the (vaccinated) numbers way higher up and hopefully prevent any more variants from coming,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, pediatrician.
Ultimately up to parents
Pfizer officials not only have to convince FDA advisors, they have to convince parents. It’s ultimately up to them.
A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found about 1/3 of parents in the age range would take a “wait-and-see” approach. Another 1/3 would let their kids get the vaccine right away.
“Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions,” said Andy Slavitt, former senior White House advisor on COVID-19. “We know that six million kids have had COVID, over a million in the last six weeks. They can get it and spread it.”
That’s the thought process behind all of this: Not only can kids get it, but they can get it and not know they have it and spread it. If more get vaccinated, less transmission happens, and the closer we get to ending the pandemic.
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