“The CDC is now expanding vaccination recommendations to approximately 28 million children in the United States in this age group and allowing providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible,” the agency said in a statement.
“We know that millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated, and with this decision we have now recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” Walensky said.
“As a mother, 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.”
Earlier Tuesday, the CDC’s independent vaccine advisers voted 14-0 in favor of child – sized vaccine doses for younger children.
Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Vaccination Practices spent an unusually long time speaking in support of the vaccine before voting. “We have one more vaccine that saves children’s lives. And that we should be very confident in implementing it to the maximum to do what it is intended to do without significant concerns about serious side effects,” said Dr. Sarah Long, a professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.
“As you have heard, we all have a lot of enthusiasm for this vaccine in this age group,” said Dr. Beth Bell, a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington, after the vote.
“But we also understand that parents have legitimate concerns and legitimate questions, and that our voice is a way of telling the American public that based on our expertise and the information we have, we are all very enthusiastic,” Bell added. .
“We all talked about how to get our children and our grandchildren vaccinated. But I think another point we made to the American public is that we understand that people have legitimate concerns and that they have “We really encourage people to ask their providers, to visit the CDC’s website, to talk to their friends, their parents and do what they need to do to feel comfortable with their decision,” Bell added.
President Joe Biden weighed in and called the decision a turning point in the fight against the pandemic.
“It will enable parents to end months of anxiety concerns about their children, and reduce the extent to which children spread the virus to others. It is a major step forward for our nation in our fight to defeat the virus,” Biden said. in an announcement.
“Over the last many weeks, my administration has been working hard to be prepared for this moment: we are ready to act. We have already secured enough vaccine supplies for every child in America, and over the last weekend we began the process. “Packing and shipping millions of pediatric vaccine doses. These doses – specifically designed for these younger children – have begun to arrive in thousands of locations across the country.”
The White House has said the vaccination program will hit full speed next week.
“A vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 will allow us to build on the extraordinary progress we have made over the last nine months. Already, more than 78 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have received at least a shot, including millions of teenagers – and the vaccines have proven to be incredibly safe and effective, “said Biden.
The CDC says 745 children and teens under 18 have died from Covid-19. “The chance that a child will have severe Covid, require hospitalization or develop a long-term complication such as MIS-C remains low, but the risk is still too high and too devastating for our children and far higher than for many other diseases that we vaccinate children, “Walensky said earlier in the meeting.
Walensky said it is also important to continue vaccinating adults.
Pfizer says its clinical trials showed that the vaccine provides 90.7% protection against symptomatic disease in this age group – at a third of the dose of what people aged 12 and older get. The company hopes that the smaller dose will reduce any potential side effects.
Data presented by the company at the meeting indicated that the younger children who tried the vaccine were far less likely to suffer from systemic side effects such as fever than the older children, teens, and young adults were.
Pfizers Dr. Alejandra Gurtman told ACIP that fever was far less common among these younger children than among older people – with 6.5% of the younger children experiencing fever in clinical trials with the vaccine, compared to 17.2% of the 16-25 -year-olds. .
Millions of doses of the vaccine are already being sent from the company’s facilities to distribution centers across the country, ready to go out to pharmacies and pediatricians’ offices.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents pediatricians, welcomed the decision.
“Vaccinating children will protect children’s health and allow them to fully participate in all the activities that are so important to their health and development. Parents can enjoy greater peace of mind by gathering with family members this winter and sending their children in school, sports and other events that were put on pause during the height of the pandemic, “it read in a statement after the ACIP vote.