Almost 1 million children in the US aged 5 to 11 years old have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose just eight days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave the green light for kids to get the shot.
By the end of the day on Wednesday, November 10, over 900,000 children aged 5- to 11-years-old will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to White House information shared with NPR ahead of an announcement expected later today.
That’s just 3 percent of the total number of children in that age group, but plenty more are expected to get the vaccine in the coming days and weeks. The White House official said that around 700,000 more kids have appointments lined up for the next few days at pharmacies, while more are set to get the vaccine at their doctor surgeries, children's hospitals, and other sites.
The Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine is currently the only vaccine authorized for emergency use in 5–11 years old by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They gave it the OK in late October following promising results from a clinical trial that showed the vaccine was well tolerated and generating a robust immune response in children between 5 and 11.
The vaccine for children is the same “recipe,” but given at a slightly lower dose: children 5 through 11 years of age are given 10 micrograms in two doses administered three weeks apart, while individuals aged over 12 are given 30 micrograms in two doses three weeks apart.
The emergence of the Delta variant has led to an increase in the number and severity of cases in children in the US in the latter half of 2021. While most COVID-19 infections in children are mild and the chances of becoming seriously ill are said to be very low, the risk is still present, especially among children that are vulnerable or have comprised immune systems. According to CDC statistics cited by the FDA, 691 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the US in children less than 18 years of age, with 146 deaths in the 5 through 11 years age group (as of October 17). Just like adults, children infected with the virus are also at risk of developing long-COVID.
As any parent can tell you, children are really good at spreading infections – and COVID-19 is no different. Since there’s evidence that vaccines can reduce the transmission of the disease, the move to vaccinate children will also potentially benefit others, including family members and teachers.