The next step in the approval process is the formal acceptance of the recommendation by CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH.
Following a unanimous vote, members of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) are officially recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years.
Members of the ACIP, who voted 14-0 in factor of the vaccine, felt that the “benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of the vaccine,” according to Reuters,1 including the potential for myocarditis which has previously been noted as an adverse effect of the the COVID-19 vaccine in young boys.
Following Tuesday’s meeting and last week’s FDA authorization of a 10 microgram dose of the vaccine, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH is the next government official to weigh in: If Walensky formally accepts the recommendation, the vaccination of children age 5 to 11 could begin as early as this week.2
Walensky is, according to the New York Times, expected to accept the recommendation.2
“The chance that a child will have severe COVID, require hospitalization or develop a long-term complication like MIS-C remains low, but the risk,” she said, “is too high and too devastating to our children, and far higher than for many other diseases for which we vaccinate children.”1,3
According to Pfizer, clinical trial results showed 90.7% protection against symptomatic disease at one-third the dose.3
By accepting the recommendation, Walensky would expand eligibility to include approximately 28 million children.3 In preparation, White House officials have enlisted over 25,000 pediatricians, family doctors, and pharmacies to administer vaccines to these children,4 and millions of doses have already been shipped from Pfizer facilities to distribution centers across the United States in preparation.
In a press release, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) applauded the ACIP decision. “Vaccinating children will protect children’s health and allow them to fully engage in all of the activities that are so important to their health and development,” said the statement.5
“Sharing this life-saving vaccine with our children is a huge step forward and provides us all with more confidence and optimism about the future,” AAP President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, added.5