U.S. CDC advisers endorse COVID vaccine for kids

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine

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Advisers to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday unanimously supported broad use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5 to 11.

The children will begin to receive jabs from Wednesday.

The advisers said the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of the vaccine.

Much of their discussion stemmed from rare cases of heart inflammation that have been linked to the vaccine, particularly young men.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky must sign off on recommendations before the United States can begin administering the vaccine to children in the age group.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization of the vaccine in 5-11 year olds on Friday.

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The FDA authorized a 10-microgram dose of Pfizer’s vaccine in young children. The original shot given to those age 12 and older is 30 micrograms.

At the outset of the meeting Walensky said that pediatric hospitalizations had surged during the recent wave driven by the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The U.S. government and Pfizer have already begun distributing the vaccine in preparation for a widespread rollout for children, many of whom are back in school for in-person learning.

Earlier this week, the White House said the United States has enough supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for all 28 million children aged 5 to 11.

While some children may be able to get their first shots as soon as Wednesday, the plans is for the U.S. pediatric vaccine program to be running at full strength by next week, a Biden administration official said.

Only a few other countries, including China, Cuba and the United Arab Emirates, have so far cleared COVID-19 vaccines for children in this age group and younger.

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