FDA authorizes vaccine for children ages 5-11

COVID-19 vaccines for younger children are one step closer to becoming available after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5 to 11.

Extending vaccine eligibility to children younger than 12 has been a major goal of public health officials and has been eagerly awaited by many pediatricians and families.

The FDA has been under pressure for months to move quickly to authorize vaccines for younger children, one of the final barriers to overcome in the country’s historic vaccination campaign.

A CDC panel is scheduled to meet early next week to recommend how the vaccines should be used.

If the panel gives favorable recommendations and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky accepts them, the vaccination campaign would begin. While school is already underway, some of the first children in line could be fully vaccinated in time for Christmas.

Combatting hesitancy: During a call with reporters, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said she understands some parents may hesitate to vaccinate their kids at first, but she thinks the more children who do get vaccinated, the more others will follow— just like it was for adults last winter and spring.

“So we certainly hope that as people see children getting vaccinated and being protected, being able to participate in activities without concern, that more and more people will get their kids vaccinated. And you know, as we accumulate more experience with the vaccine, more comfort with the safety will occur,” Woodcock said.