CDC Recommends Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccine

Just days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Pfizer’s low dose COVID-19 children’s vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released their recommendation. 

The director of the CDC, Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children 5-11 years old. This widens the vaccine recommendation to around 28 million children in the United States and allows for immediate distribution of vaccines. 

The authorization of the low dose children’s vaccine can help prevent and protect children from contracting COVID-19 as well as spreading it, which is similar to the effects of the adult dosage. The children’s dose of the vaccine was also comparable to the adult dosage, maintaining the almost 91 percent effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 in children. Clinical trials showed similar side effects in children, with a sore arm being the most common vaccine side effect. 

Pfizer’s children’s vaccine is one-third the amount of the adult dose and will be administered in two doses, three weeks apart, as with the adult COVID vaccine. Pfizer says the lower dose was chosen to minimize the side effects of the vaccine in children while still producing strong immunity.

Children are particularly vulnerable to infection, especially the more detrimental Delta variant which caused a surge in children over the summer; COVID-19 cases in children are more susceptible to hospitalization, death, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes), and long-term complications caused by COVID-19. Between late June to mid-August, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 among children and adolescents increased fivefold.

The latest data from the CDC show that 172 children aged 5-11 have died and over 8,300 have been hospitalized due to COVID. Including children among the population of people who can receive the vaccine has the possibility of reducing the likelihood of a new variant emerging. 

Shipments of the vaccine had already begun to roll out after the FDA’s decision to authorize the vaccine for this age group last Friday—around 15 million doses have been reported and should be ready for distribution by Monday, November 8. Pediatricians’ offices, family doctors, community health centers, pharmacies, and tribal health centers are just some of the locations that will have access to the vaccines; some schools will have administration sites as well. As with adults, there is no doctor’s order needed to get the vaccine.

Parents are encouraged to discuss with their healthcare provider if they have any questions or concerns regarding their child’s COVID-19 vaccination. 

Dr. Walensky’s statement in regard to this authorization is as follows:

“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. 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.”