By Eli Walsh
Bay City News
An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted Tuesday in support of authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11.
The panel voted 17-0, with one abstention, in favor of expanding the federal government’s emergency use authorization for the vaccine, which is currently available to everyone age 12 and up.
While the FDA is not beholden to the advisory panel’s vote, it generally sides with decisions the panel makes.
An advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is expected to consider the vaccine’s efficacy and safety for 5-11 year olds early next week.
With the CDC’s approval, 5-11-year-old children could begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines in most states as soon as the end of next week.
In California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, the vaccine’s approval will face an additional hurdle in the form of the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.
The four-state group is on track to issue its own approval of COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds by Nov. 5 or 6.
In a joint statement, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly and Department of Public Health Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomas Aragon said the state will be prepared to immediately begin vaccinating children ages 5-11 when the review process has been completed.
“Research from rigorous clinical trials indicate the pediatric formulation of the vaccine is safe and highly effective in this age group,” Aragon and Ghaly said. “Real-world evidence continues to show that the vaccine is preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.”