On Tuesday the 26th October 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel voted to formally recommend that children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old be authorised to receive Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine under emergency use authorization (EUA).
The committee was posed with the following question:
‘Based on the totality of scientific evidence available, do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine when administered as a 2-dose series outweigh its risks for use in children 5-11 years of age?‘
Unbelievably, although it perhaps should be predictable by now, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted 17-0 with one doctor abstaining, clearing the way for the full FDA authorisation.
The U.K. government’s vaccine advisory panel—Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisationsays that a first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine could prevent 87 COVID-related hospital admissions per million children but comes with a risk of 3 to 17 cases of vaccine-induced Myocarditis . A second dose prevents a further six hospitalizations per million but risks an additional 12 to 34 cases of myocarditis.
The JVCI deliberated on the risk and benefits of children and young people receiving the vaccination and have said that the evidence strongly indicates that almost all children and young people are at very low risk from COVID-19. Where symptoms are seen in children and young people, they are “typically mild, and little different from other mild respiratory viral infections which circulate each year”. Although the government had given missed education as a good reason to vaccinate, the JCVI addressed this arguing that young people who have “SARS-CoV2” infection do not become so unwell that they need to take time off school. Should the government wish to consider vaccinating children aged less than 18, the known benefits are limited. In September the JCVI declined to recommend vaccine for adolescents 12 upwards, there would be no reason to think they would recommend the vaccine for the younger 5 – 11-year-olds. They instead passing the decision to Britain’s chief medical officers, preferring to wait for more data to be accrued.