The Food and Drug Administration signed off last week on Pfizer's vaccine for younger kids after a recommendation from its advisory panel. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday officially recommended that children between ages 5 and 11 receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky's endorsement of the vaccine for younger children came hours after the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended it.
The agency said roughly 28 million children are now eligible to receive the vaccine "as soon as possible.
"Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation's fight against the virus that causes COVID-19," Walensky said.
"We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As a mom, 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."
President Joe Biden called the CDC decision "a turning point" in the fight against COVID-19.
"It will allow parents to end months of anxious worrying about their kids, and reduce the extent to which children spread the virus to others," he said. "It is a major step forward for our nation in our fight to defeat the virus."
The proposed dose for younger children is a third of the dose given to recipients over age 12. The children would receive two shots three weeks apart.
The Food and Drug Administration signed off last week on Pfizer's vaccine for younger children after a recommendation from its advisory panel.
"The chances a child will have severe COVID, require hospitalization or develop a long term complication like MIS-C remains low but still the risk remains too high and too devastating to our children and far higher for many other diseases for which we vaccinate our children," Walesnky said.
File Photo by Mark Lennihan/UPI
Emergency use authorization for child doses gives Pfizer's vaccine a head start over the other two available vaccines in the United States, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Those companies are still studying the effects of their vaccines in younger children.
Last week, Moderna reported that smaller doses in children in a similar age range have proven to be safe and effective.
Researchers found no serious side effects related to the child doses of Pfizer's shot. Usual side effects include headache and fatigue.
White House Coronavirus Response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said Monday that the Biden administration has ordered enough vaccines to cover all U.S. children in the 5-11 age range.
Biden said millions of vaccine doses have already shipped out to thousands of locations across the United States.
"The program will ramp up over the coming days, and fully up and running during the week of Nov. 8. Parents will be able to bring their children to thousands of pharmacies, pediatrician's offices, schools, and other sites to get vaccinated. Because of the groundwork we've laid, we can be confident that vaccinations for kids will be available, easy, and convenient," he said.