COVID-19 vaccines expanded to kids 5-11
(AP) – U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opens a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 5.
The Food and Drug Administration already authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11 — doses just a third of the amount given to teens and adults. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.
The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.
The decision marks the first opportunity for Americans under 12 to get the powerful protection of any COVID-19 vaccine.
“As a mom, 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,” Walensky said Tuesday night, in a statement.
In remarks earlier in the day, she said while the risk of severe disease and death is lower in young children than adults, it is real — and that COVID-19 has had a profound social, mental health and educational impact on youngsters, including widening disparities in learning.
President Joe Biden called the decision “a turning point.”
“It will allow parents to end months of anxious worrying about their kids, and reduce the extent to which children spread the virus to others,” he said in a statement. “It is a major step forward for our nation in our fight to defeat the virus.”
Last week Indiana officials said that the state should be able to immediately inoculate a third of children ages 5 to 11 as preparations are made to expand Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for the age group if the federal government gives it approval.
The Indiana Department of Health’s chief medical officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said the state expected to receive 200,000 additional COVID vaccines intended for the state’s roughly 600,000 5-to-11-year-olds on Monday and Tuesday. Smaller shipments of the vaccine are expected in the following weeks, a process similar to earlier COVID vaccine rollouts, Weaver said.
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