“It is our ongoing responsibility to make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated and protected from Covid-19,” Walensky told the panel on Tuesday, calling it a “monumental day.”
The CDC data shows 172 children in the targeted age group have died from the virus, and over 8,300 have been hospitalized. Beyond the clinical impact of the virus on children, there have been “detrimental social and mental health impacts that we are just beginning to fully understand,” Walensky added.
Tuesday’s decision means that some 28 million children in this age bracket in the US will be eligible to receive the jabs. Two doses, one-third the strength of the shot administered to those 12 and older, would be given three weeks apart.
The government has already purchased enough vaccines for everyone, White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients has revealed. Pfizer began the process last Friday, after the Food and Drug Administration gave emergency authorization for using the vaccine.
The first doses may be available by the end of this week, but the federal distribution program “will be fully operational” by November 8, Zients said.
CDC models indicate that vaccinating the children would prevent 600,000 coronavirus cases by March 2022, and “would dampen, but not eliminate,” the possibility of a new variant emerging, according to Dr. Sara Oliver.
The FDA addressed concerns over vaccine-related heart inflammations in teenagers by saying that its modeling “predicts that overall, the benefits of the vaccine would outweigh its risks in children 5 through 11.”
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