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FDA Panel Greenlights Pfizer Vaccine for Kids - How Big Is the COVID Danger for Them?

This October 2021, photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. (Pfizer via AP, File)
This October 2021, photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. (Pfizer via AP, File)

Millions of children in America could soon be vaccinated from the coronavirus. That's because a Food and Drug Administration panel greenlighted Pfizer's low dose vaccine for kids, with nearly all 18 members of the panel approving. 

"We don't want children to be dying in COVID, even if it is far fewer children than adults, and we don't want them in the ICU," said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a member of the FDA committee.

Kids are much less likely than adults to die from COVID-19 or even be hospitalized. Out of the 3.2 million Americans who have ended up in the hospital fighting COVID: 

  • 8,300 have been children; a third of them ended up in the ICU. 
  • More than 600 children ages 0 to 15 have died according to the CDC.  

This article from Vox offers some additional perspective: "How the risk of Covid-19 for kids compares to other dangers."

Pfizer says its trial data show that the vaccine, which is one-third an adult dose, is nearly 91 percent effective against symptomatic illness in children ages five to 11. 

"That's an incredible finding," said Dr. Alok Patel, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "That's actually more effective than a lot of routine childhood vaccines we use."

While the FDA committee stressed, they don't support vaccine mandates for children, they do agree that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for kids.
"I didn't see any red flags in the data," said Dr. Ted Ruel, chief of UCSF's Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 

The White House is ready to ship 65 million pediatric doses of the Pfizer shots. That could happen as soon as next week once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives final approval. If regulators agree, shots for kids could begin as early as late next week. 
While some parents are looking forward to vaccinating their children, others remain on the fence.                         
"You know it's just a little child," said undecided mom Taylor Walker. "Like, I don't know how quick I want to jump on a decision to do that."

Meanwhile, the CDC now recommends yet another booster for people with weakened immune systems, saying they may need a fourth shot six months after their last dose. 

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