PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Young children are a step closer to getting the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after a vote recommending it coming late Tuesday afternoon from the FDA advisory committee. The full FDA still has to weigh in, along with the CDC, which is meeting next week.
Tuesday’s vote is just a recommendation.
The FDA advisory panel voted to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for younger children, deciding that the benefits outweigh possible side effects, including myocarditis, a rare heart condition.
Dr. Paul Offit, from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is on the FDA advisory committee.
“If we do end up recommending this vaccine, we will only do it if we give it to our own children,” he said.
Pfizer says its pediatric vaccine is 90% effective at preventing severe complications from COVID. It’s a third of the standard dose — two shots three weeks apart.
“Even as we face the cold weather and other concerns about whether we might see another surge, we don’t want that, and this would be one significant step forward,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.
About 28 million children ages 5 to 11 would be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. That could be available as early as next week if it’s authorized by the CDC.
FDA officials say a pediatric vaccine is needed, with almost 2 million youngsters having been infected with COVID — about 9% of all cases.
“And there have been close to 100 deaths, making it one of the top 10 causes of death in this age range during this time,” said Dr. Peter Marks, director fo the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
Fifth-grader Jarren Monroe was one of the 4,500 children who tested the Pfizer vaccine.
“It will make it a lot safer for me to go outside and play all the sports that I play and have fun with my friends and family,” he said.
If the Pfizer vaccine for younger children is authorized by the CDC next week, shots would be available in a variety of locations, including doctors’ offices and some schools.