The approval comes after a study showed strong protection with no serious side effects.
On Oct. 29, the United States Food and Drug Administration granted approval for children within the age range of 5 to 11 years old to receive the Pfizer vaccination for the COVID-19 in emergency-use situations. The FDA described the approval vote as overwhelming,, 14-0, as the vaccine was shown in studies to be 90.7 percent effective in preventing the virus in children of this age group with no serious side effects.
This decision has been received very well by many Americans. Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting Commissioner of the FDA, is quoted saying “As a mother and a physician, I know that parents, caregivers, school staff, and children have been waiting for today’s authorization. Vaccinating younger children against COVID-19 will bring us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy.”
Pfizer’s vaccination is significantly different to accommodate for 5-11 year olds, administering lower doses of only 10 micrograms (one third of the dose given to 12 year olds to adults) of the vaccine in two doses which are spread apart by three weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have demonstrated their support as well for the FDA’s decision that this meets the efficacy and safety concerns. Approximately 39 percent of cases of COVID-19 in the United States under the age of 18 fell within this age range, and a large amount led to hospitalization, giving strong motivation to get a version of the vaccine out as soon as possible to address such concerns.
North Carolina was one state that jumped at the opportunity of having a vaccine for this age group. 24,000 children were vaccinated in the state within 24 hours of its opening, although this is only 3 percent of the state’s total population that is under the age of 11. This is likely to change as more and more children receive the vaccine, and concerns regarding safety of this vaccine have been alleviated. According to Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, the clinical trials for this vaccine were very extensive, and we should not cite the young age of these children as a reason to not get a vaccine.
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walenski echoes these sentiments, stating, “I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated,” Pediatric professor Dr. Sarah Long also agrees with this view of the situation, saying, “We have one more vaccine that saves lives of children. And that we should be very confident to deploy it to the maximum to do what it is meant to do without significant concerns of serious adverse effects.”
This vaccination approval is still relatively new as we reach the middle of November, and there is still much to be seen as to the effects it will have upon the dynamic of the U.S. as a whole in the fight against COVID-19, but this is just the beginning in North America, as Canada will likely be following suit within the next few weeks of approving the Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year old children. For updated and accurate information and research into the coronavirus and vaccines among other medical questions, please visit both the FDA and the CDC website in order to be informed on issues surrounding health and medical treatment in the United States.