Children as young as 5 can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as early as Wednesday.
The Associated Press reports that the Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a recommendation for an emergency use authorization for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 14-0 Tuesday to allow a lower dose of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to children.
Dr. Allison Messina, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, urges parents to talk to their child's pediatrician if they have concerns.
"Many schools in the surrounding communities don’t have mask mandates and all of the kids are back in school which makes social distancing more challenging so I think that having this vaccine will add a level of protection for those students who have to spend their time around other people. I think it will be quite a relief to a lot of parents to have that option to have their kids protected," said Dr. Messina.
The Pfizer vaccine has already been fully approved for people aged 16 and up and is available for adolescents aged 12 to 15 under emergency use authorization.
During a briefing of the White House COVID-19 response team Monday, coordinator Jeff Zients said that the Biden administration has already begun the process of shipping doses for children to doctor's offices and hospitals across the country. Officials say 15 million doses will be made available immediately upon approval.
The ACIP vote comes a day after the CDC reported that 80% of adults in the U.S. had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC says 67% of the total U.S. population has at least one dose — a number that's sure to rise once vaccines for children are made available.
The CDC says that 58% of the U.S. population — about 193 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Another 19 million people have received an additional booster shot.