COVID-19 Vaccines for 5 to 11 Year Olds Appear on the Way

Enough of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been secured to offer vaccinations for everyone in this age group.

A rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 could begin early next month. The Biden Administration announced today it had secured enough of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the US pediatric population to roll out vaccinations to 5 to 11-year-old children.

The White House issued a statement saying that it plans to “ensure that, if a vaccine is authorized for children ages 5-11, it is quickly distributed and made conveniently and equitably available to families across the country.”

The timeline for upcoming meetings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been set and both will discuss and review data regarding this age group. The FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) meeting is set for October 26 and open to the public.

The CDC is planning back-to-back meetings on November 2-3 to weigh the FDA’s recommendations.

Assuming the FDA approves the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in this age group and the CDC also recommends it, the rollout for vaccinations in children ages 5 to 11 years could begin in early November.

“Millions of adolescents ages 12-17 have been safely vaccinated, and we know vaccines work,” the White House said in the statement. “Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant. The consequences of a pediatric COVID-19 case can be serious and potentially last months.”

The announcement comes as evidence mounts that not only not only can pediatric patients of all ages carry high viral loads of SARS-CoV-2, but they can also serve as a means for the virus to mutate.

study published October 14 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases investigators with Massachusetts General Hospital write that “symptomatic and asymptomatic children can carry high quantities of live, replicating SARS-CoV-2, creating a potential reservoir for transmission and evolution of genetic variants. As guidance around social distancing and masking evolves following vaccine uptake in older populations, a clear understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection dynamics in children is critical for rational development of public health policies and vaccination strategies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.”

This article first appeared inContagion®.