What we know about the timeline for kids to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An FDA panel recommended has Pfizer’s COVID-19 for children ages 5 to 11. This was the first major step in making the shots available for this group.

Before shots can go into arms, the FDA director, Dr. Janet Woodcock, will need to make decision in this. While the director typically takes the side of the advisory committee, they could choose to go in a different direction.

Next week, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet to discuss the same topic. This vote would take place during their meeting on Nov. 2 or Nov. 3. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky would then be charged with making the final decision for that agency. That decision could come as soon as the evening of the advisory committee’s vote.

If both the FDA and CDC director choose to recommend Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine, child vaccinations could start as soon as the end of next week but it will be dependent on when the White House sends the state it’s allotted doses.

Pfizer’s vaccine for children five to 11 would come in a different packaging and vial than what was used in people 12 and older. This new packaging would come in orange rather than purple with more doses per vial. The company hoped differentiating the vials and packaging would prevent a mix-up.

Pfizer reported their vaccine is 91 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection and 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization for this age group.

The FDA’s recommendation was for two doses three weeks apart like adults. Unlike adults, this group’s dosing will be a 10 micrograms rather than 30 micrograms.

One possible vaccine side effect in younger populations myocarditis, a condition where the heart muscle swells. It was a big topic of debate for the FDA panel and will likely be for the CDC’s advisory committee as well. The FDA panel ultimately found it was very rare and treatable. They decided the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risk.

Side effects are a big concern for a lot of parents. Pfizer reported most children reported mild to moderate side effects. They were most often reported after the second dose and at similar rates as young adults. Pfizer said the most common was injection site pain and redness. Fatigue was also common but reported by less than half of the children in trials.

CBS17 asked Dr. Bechara Choucair, White House vaccinations coordinator what he thought would be the biggest hurdle would be in this rollout. He noted vaccine-hesistant parents.

“That’s why an important part of our operational plan is to build vaccine confidence, having conversations with parents providing parents with answers to their questions, so that they are also getting ready to get their kids vaccinate,” Choucair said.

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