CDC Director Walensky signs off on Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday gave the final OK for children ages 5-11 to receive Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes COVID-19,” Walensky said in a statement. “We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a 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.” 

The endorsement vote comes after a special federal advisory committee met to debate the issue.

FILE: This October 2021, photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium.

FILE: This October 2021, photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium.
(Pfizer via AP )

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use for kid doses, which are about one-third of the dose given to adolescents and adults. The vaccine is already approved for emergency use in children 12-15 years old.

COVID-19 VACCINE FOR CHILDREN HAS BEEN PACKED AND SHIPPED

Tuesday’s move means that as many as 28 million more children could be eligible for vaccinations as soon as this week. 

Only Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are available thus far for adolescents, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccines are still being tested.

At the end of October, the FDA affirmed results from Pfizer showing that its two-dose shot was nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children. 

In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 file photo, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, speaks during an event in Wilmington, Del.  

In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 file photo, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, speaks during an event in Wilmington, Del.  
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

The Biden administration, awaiting a green light, has been assembling and shipping millions of COVID-19 shots for children. 

“We are not waiting on the operations and logistics,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said Tuesday, assuring that the administration is “in great shape on supply.” 

COVID-19 DEATH TOLL REACHES 5 MILLION WORLDWIDE

Zients said that the administration had started preparation after the FDA’s authorization. Workers at Pfizer and distribution centers then began to prepare and pack 15 million doses.

“More doses will be packed and shipped and delivered,” he added. “More and more vaccine will come on line as we ramp up.”

CDC to debate COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11

Walensky has also stressed that Pfizer/BioNTech clinical trials of the vaccine for children have found it to be highly effective in preventing serious disease with no severe side effects – though children are less likely to suffer severe COVID-19 infections.

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“There has been a great deal of anticipation from parents,” Walensky said. “I encourage parents to ask questions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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