A panel of independent medical experts advising the Food and Drug Administration voted 17 to 0 (with one abstention) this afternoon in favor of authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 5 to 11 years old.
The vote is a key step toward the first pediatric COVID-19 vaccine in the US. Next, the FDA will need to sign off on the recommendation from the advisory panel—the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC)—and issue an emergency use authorization for the 5-to-11 age group. That FDA authorization is expected within days. Once that occurs, the federal government will begin shipping pediatric doses of the vaccine to states for distribution at clinics, pharmacies, and pediatricians’ offices.
But before doses can go into any little arms, a panel of independent experts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also need to weigh in. That panel—the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—is scheduled to meet November 2 and 3. If ACIP votes in favor of recommending use of the vaccine in children ages 5 to 11, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will need to sign off on the committee’s recommendation. That would likely happen quickly, and after that, vaccinations can begin.