CDC recommends Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for kids 5 to 11

By Melissa Mahtani, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 10:36 PM ET, Tue November 2, 2021
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8:30 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Biden calls authorization of vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 a "turning point" in Covid-19 battle

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

Stickers for children are seen ahead of full approval from the CDC for children to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on November 2.
Stickers for children are seen ahead of full approval from the CDC for children to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut on November 2. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images)

President Biden is calling the CDC’s authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine for children age 5-11 “a turning point in our battle against COVID-19.”

“It will allow parents to end months of anxious worrying about their kids, and reduce the extent to which children spread the virus to others. It is a major step forward for our nation in our fight to defeat the virus,” Biden wrote in a statement Tuesday night after the CDC’s decision.

The President also said that his administration is prepared to meet this moment, having already secured enough vaccine doses for every child in America. Some of those doses have already been delivered to locations across the country and by the week of Nov. 8, the distribution program for these vaccines will be fully up and running according to Biden.

“A vaccine for children age 5 to 11 will allow us to build on the extraordinary progress we’ve made over the last nine months. Already, more than 78 percent of Americans age 12 and older have gotten at least one shot, including millions of teenagers — and the vaccines have proven to be incredibly safe and effective,” he concluded.

8:01 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

5- to 11-year-olds can now get a Covid-19 vaccine in the US

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said Tuesday evening she was endorsing a recommendation for vaccinating children ages 5-11 against Covid-19, clearing the way for immediate vaccination of the youngest age group yet in the United States.

“CDC now expands vaccine recommendations to about 28 million children in the United States in this age group and allows providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible,” the agency said in a statement.

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against the virus that causes COVID-19,” Walensky said.

“We know millions of parents are eager to get their children vaccinated and with this decision, we now have recommended that about 28 million children receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated." 

5:42 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

"We have one more vaccine that saves the lives of children," CDC vaccine adviser says

From CNN's Maggie Fox

Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spent considerable time Tuesday explaining their votes in support of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, saying it’s safe and will protect children form an infection that can hurt them.

“We have one more vaccine that saves lives of children. And that we should be very confident to deploy it to the maximum to do what it is meant to do without significant concerns of serious adverse effects,” said Dr. Sarah Long, a professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and one of 14 members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices who voted to recommend the vaccine.

“As you’ve heard, we all have a lot of enthusiasm for this vaccine in this age group,” added Dr. Beth Bell, a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington.

She continued: “But we also understand that parents have legitimate concerns and legitimate questions, and that our vote is a way of telling the American public that, based on our expertise and the information that we have, we’re all very enthusiastic. We were all talking about how we’re getting our kids and our grandkids vaccinated. But I think another point that we made to the American public is that we do understand that people have legitimate concerns and that they have lots of questions. We really encourage people to ask their providers, to visit the CDC website, to talk to their friends, their parents, and do what they need to do to feel comfortable with their decision."

It's now up to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky to recommend the vaccine, and she has signaled she will do so. After that, vaccination of the younger children may begin immediately.

5:58 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

CDC vaccine advisers vote to recommend Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine in children 5-11

From CNN's Health’s Maggie Fox

Bridgette Melo, 5, holds onto the hand of her dad Jim Melo as she gets the first of two Pfizer COVID vaccinations on September 28 during a clinical trial for children at Duke Health.
Bridgette Melo, 5, holds onto the hand of her dad Jim Melo as she gets the first of two Pfizer COVID vaccinations on September 28 during a clinical trial for children at Duke Health. (Shawn Rocco/Duke Health)

Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend giving Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine to children ages 5-11.

Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices spent close to an hour commenting in support of the recommendation before they voted.

The question now goes to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who signaled in opening remarks to the committee’s meeting that she strongly supports vaccinating children in this age group to protect them against Covid-19 and its complications, and to help school get back to normal.

Vaccination could begin as soon as Walensky issues her decision.

4:58 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

CDC vaccine advisers speak in strong favor of vaccinating 5-11-year-olds against Covid-19

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

Vaccine advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spoke in strong favor Tuesday of recommending Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.

CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was discussing whether to recommend Pfizer’s one-third sized vaccine for children, after the US Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization last week.

Members of ACIP’s working group, which went over efficacy and safety data, told the meeting they felt strongly the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risk.

Voting and non-voting members of ACIP took turns speaking in favor of vaccinating children Tuesday before the vote.

Members of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners all spoke in favor of recommending the vaccine.

“The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the world's largest organization of pediatric infectious diseases specialists, strongly supports the universal recommendations the Covid-19 vaccination of children 5 through 11 years of age, as authorized by the FDA,” Dr. Sean O’Leary, associate professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Colorado, told the meeting.
4:08 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

SOON: CDC advisers vote on Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will vote on whether to recommend Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. 

The US Food and Drug Administration gave their green light for the vaccine on Friday. However, shots cannot be administered until after ACIP make a recommendation on the use of the vaccine and the CDC director signs off.

Earlier Tuesday CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky made a hard case for vaccinating younger children against Covid-19, pointing to the disruption nearly two years of pandemic has made to their lives, and reminding CDC vaccine advisers about the risks of the virus.

Walensky sent a clear signal about where she stands. “We have been asking when we will be able to expand this protection to our younger children,” she said in opening comments to the committee.

“As you review the data today, it will be key to keep in mind the specific risks to children from this virus and the pandemic, and to put that risk into context of other vaccine-preventable diseases,” she said, noting that children are routinely vaccinated against diseases such as chickenpox, which kill far fewer children and put far fewer of them into the hospital than Covid-19 does.

Many vaccine clinics, children's hospitals and pediatricians' offices across the United States have received shipments of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine doses for ages 5 to 11 and are ready to put shots into arms as early as Wednesday – or even Tuesday night — if the Walensky recommends it.

3:26 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Many Covid-19 vaccine sites will be ready to start vaccinations for kids tomorrow

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium.
This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. Pfizer/AP

Many vaccine clinics, children's hospitals and pediatricians' offices across the United States have received shipments of Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine doses for ages 5 to 11 and are ready to put shots into arms as early as Wednesday – or even Tuesday night — if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it.

The company Viral Solutions, which organizes Covid-19 vaccine and testing clinics in Georgia, confirmed that it has received Pfizer's child vaccine, and if the CDC gives the green light, vaccinations could start as early as Tuesday evening at a location in Decatur.

Children's Hospital Los Angeles in California and Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio both confirmed to CNN that they received their vaccine shipments Tuesday and are planning to administer vaccine Wednesday, pending CDC sign-off.

And MiDoctor Urgent Care in New York confirmed to CNN that child vaccine doses have arrived and are ready to be administered on-site Wednesday morning.

Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 received emergency use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration on Friday, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice is meeting now to consider whether recommending use of the vaccine in that age group. Shots can be administered after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signs off on that recommendation.

The Biden administration has secured enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the 28 million children ages 5 to 11 in the United States who are eligible for vaccination, according to the White House. Pfizer's vaccine for younger kids is a smaller dose of 10 micrograms, rather than the 30 micrograms used for people 12 and older.

2:25 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

If the CDC approves vaccines for younger kids, this is where they'll be able to get them

From CNN's Maggie Fox

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is meeting now to discuss the US Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11.

A vote is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. ET.

If ACIP recommends the vaccines and the CDC director signs off, vaccination could begin immediately for that age group.

Where can kids get vaccines?

The same places they get flu vaccines – their pediatricians' offices, at local pharmacies and perhaps at some schools.

"This is the pediatrician's wheelhouse," Dr. David Kimberlin, who helps lead the pediatric infectious diseases division at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told CNN.

"We're trying to get pediatricians enrolled and that's a major strategy," Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, told CNN's Jacqueline Howard.

One potential pinch point is the smaller dose of vaccine, which means the younger children cannot be given doses in stock for adults and teens.

The kids' vaccine is expected to be shipped in packages of 100 doses, which is much smaller than the packages of 1,170 doses used for the adult vaccines.

"The fact that they're moving to smaller packaging and smaller shipping amounts is really great news," Hannan said. That will be easier for doctors' offices to manage.

The CDC notes that government websites help people find places to get vaccinated.

"Search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you," the CDC advises.

"I think the real key is to get enough parents interested in having their children vaccinated," Kimberlin said.

In addition, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said the country's Covid-19 vaccination program for children ages 5 to 11 will be fully up and running next week.

"While vaccinations may start later this week, the program will still be ramping up to its full strength, with millions more doses packed, shipped and delivered and thousands of additional sites coming online each day," Zients said at a briefing Monday, noting that 15 million doses are being shipped.

2:10 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Six children infected with Covid-19 for every case diagnosed, CDC says

From CNN’s Maggie Fox

About six US children were infected with coronavirus for every case diagnosed in September – meaning most cases went undetected, a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher said Tuesday.

CDC estimates show that about 38% of US children ages 5-11 have been infected with coronavirus — more than adults, overall, and about the same as among children and teens ages 12 to 17, the CDC’s Dr. Jefferson Jones told a meeting of CDC vaccine advisers. But this varies — from 11% in some states to 61% in others, he said.

The CDC looked at data taken from people who had blood drawn for a number of reasons not related to Covid-19, but who were tested for antibodies against coronavirus.

And while about half of all infections among adults are going undiagnosed now, many more are being missed among younger children, Jones told the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. In September, among children 5 to 11, the CDC estimates 6.2 were infected in September for every case diagnosed.

“Infections resulting in mild or no symptoms appear to be much more common in children than adults,” Jones told the meeting.

The CDC’s ACIP is meeting now to consider a one-third dose of Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5-11 and will vote later Tuesday.