An FDA advisory board meets today to consider Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine for young children.
The panel is evaluating Pfizer's request to approve the shots for 28-million kids ages five to eleven. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says she hopes to have a decision by the start of next week. While the panel's vote will not be binding, a positive result could clear the way for shots to soon be authorized by the FDA. If the agency decides to allow the vaccine, the Biden administration says up to 15 million child-sized doses of Pfizer's vaccine could be shipped out to providers immediately after the FDA's decision.
Results from Pfizer's clinical trials, released ahead of the FDA's meeting, suggest that the vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting against symptomatic COVID-19 when given in two smaller doses formulated for younger children. Much of the committee's discussions on Tuesday are expected to center on whether the potential risks of rare side effects linked to the shots — types of heart inflammation called myocarditis and pericarditis — are outweighed by the vaccine's potential benefits for a population that is far less likely to face a severe case of COVID-19.