CDC Recommends COVID-19 Vaccine for Children Ages 5-11

Yesterday, Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that children ages 5-11 be vaccinated against COVID-19 with a lower dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. This came after last week's FDA advisory committee approved the vaccine's emergency use authorization.

The Biden administration anticipated the decision and has been working on a plan to use more than 20,000 pediatricians, family doctors, clinics and pharmacies to give the shots instead of mass inoculation sites. The vials and needles for the doses will be smaller, too, reported the New York Times. 

Why Children Should Get a Vaccine

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said that 745 children have died of COVID during the pandemic, including 94 children ages 5-11. More than 2,300 children of this age have been diagnosed with multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). The CDC reports that 2,688 kids ages 5 to 17 have been hospitalized. 

COVID-19 risks are "too high and too devastating to our children and far higher than for many other diseases for which we vaccinate children," Dr. Walensky said.

“We know it’s milder, we know [children] navigate it better than certainly older adults,” Buddy Creech, MD, MPH, FPIDS, a pediatric infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres in a Facebook Doc to Doc conversation. “But we also recognize that there’s a burden of infection in children. And now we’ve got a tool to prevent it.”

Though children are less likely to get severe illness from COVID-19, when they are hospitalized, they’re more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit and more likely to need a ventilator, compared with children hospitalized with the flu, Fiona Havers, MD, MHS, FIDSA, a medical officer with the CDC, told NBC News. To learn more, read this report about COVID-19 and children ages 5–11 that Dr. Havers gave to the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Oct. 26.

Where to Get a Vaccine

Scheduling for vaccine appointments for children ages 5 to 11 is now open at VUMC. Vaccinations are by appointment only and are taking place in the theater at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. Vaccines will be given only to this age group at this location. Learn more here