A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee has voted in favour of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children five to 11 years old.
The vaccines and related biological products advisory committee voted unanimously with one abstention that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh any potential risks, including a side effect of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) that’s been very rare in teens and young adults who get a much higher dose.
The dose for young children is just one-third of the Pfizer shot already recommended for everyone 12 and older.
The FDA isn’t bound by the committee’s recommendation, but is expected to take it into consideration and make its decision within days.
If the FDA authorizes the kid-size doses, there’s still another step before children in the U.S. can get the shot. Next week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will also have to decide whether to recommend the shots and whether all children should get them or targeted groups.
Health Canada is currently reviewing Pfizer’s vaccine to decide whether or not to authorize its use for five to 11-year-olds in Canada.
While children are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 than older people, five to 11-year-olds in the U.S. have faced substantial illness — including over 8,300 hospitalizations reported — with about a third of those requiring intensive care — and nearly 100 deaths.
Moderna is also studying smaller doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for use in children under 12.
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