On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine to children ages 5 to 11. The agency’s decision expands vaccine availability to about 28 million children in the U.S. and allows providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible. The CDC estimates that every million doses given to children ages 5 to 11 would prevent about 58,000 cases and 226 hospitalizations in this group. Further, vaccinating these children is expected to prevent about 600,000 new cases among all age groups from November 2021 to March 2022.
The official sign-off by CDC director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, was the last major regulatory step in the authorization process. It followed last week’s endorsement by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and a unanimous vote by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to recommend the vaccine for pediatric use.