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FDA panel approves of Pfizer vaccine for kids, setting the stage for FDA authorization

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 26, 2021

A panel of the Food and Drug Administration voted that the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old outweigh the risks, paving the way for the lower dosage two-dose vaccine for children to be approved.

Next, the FDA will need to approve the vaccine for emergency use in this age group, then a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee will vote on whether to approve its use early next week.

While case rates and hospitalization rates due to COVID-19 in children in this age group are low, they are not zero.

Nationwide, 94 children ages 5 to 11 years old have died due to COVID-19, and members of the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee weighed this fact with the potential risk for side effects.

The safety data from Pfizer show how protective the vaccine can be for children, producing robust immune responses. Ultimately, the committee voted 17-0 to recommend the vaccine for approval, with one panel member abstaining.

The Washington Department of Health is receiving orders for the Pfizer pediatric vaccine from providers throughout the state.

The Pfizer lower-dose pediatric vaccine is being sent in vials different from the doses approved for those 12 and older.

Some pharmacies can order the vaccine directly through the federal government.

The Department of Health is planning to partner with schools, pediatricians and mobile teams to get the vaccines to kids. The department also will host Care-a-Van events mobile vaccine clinics throughout the state. Local health districts can also order doses for children to help ensure enough doses in the community.

Initially, Washington state will receive 230,000 pediatric doses, which is about a third of the total population of 5- to 11-year-olds . There are 680,000 children in Washington state who will become eligible for the Pfizer pediatric vaccine if it is approved.

The department is waiting on more details on how allocation will work as well as when ordering and shipments will begin.

Here’s a look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 155 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death on Tuesday.

There have been 896 deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County residents.

There are 137 patients with the virus hospitalized in Spokane hospitals.

The Panhandle Health District reported 245 new cases and seven additional deaths.

There have been 591 deaths due to COVID-19 in Panhandle residents.

There are 142 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus. Kootenai Health has 125 COVID-19 patients, including 40 needing critical care.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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