FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – Millions of school children could be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week.
In a near unanimous vote Tuesday, an FDA advisory committee recommended authorization of Pfizer’s low dose COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11. Pfizer says its two-shot vaccine is 90.7% effective in that age group.
If adopted by the FDA and CDC, some 28 million young kids would be eligible for vaccinations.
“I’m so excited, this is the next step we need to protect our children and move forward,” said Dr. Hailey Nelson, a pediatrician at Valley Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Nelson says while most children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, others get very sick.
“What I tell families is that these vaccines are meeting the same checklist that all the other childhood vaccines your child has already gotten has to go through,” explained Dr. Nelson.
She says it could be a game changer ahead of the holidays, and for families with children in school navigating exposures, testing, and quarantine rules.
“The fact that we could avoid that hassle and have your child protected and having that confidence they won’t get sick, and then they are able to stay in the activities they want to be doing,” Dr. Nelson said.
California health officials say the state’s ready to administer vaccines immediately once the federal and state review process is complete, saying in part:
“Today’s recommendation to authorize the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 brings us one step closer to keeping more of our loved ones safe, achieving full family protection, and ending the wrath of this deadly virus.”
What kinds of things should parents consider before getting their child vaccinated?
“Talk to your doctor. I’m happy to talk to any parent that comes in the clinic, sends me a message to answer what questions they have so they feel prepared and ready before that approval happens,” said Dr. Nelson.
A CDC panel is expected to weigh in next week.
Meantime, Moderna says it will soon seek approval for its low-dose pediatric vaccine.