Covid-19: towards vaccination of children aged 5 and over in the United States

The panel responsible for advising the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American drug agency, recommended, Tuesday, October 26, to approve the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years with the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNtech. The case is now on the table of the FDA and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), who usually endorse this kind of recommendation. This authorization, which could be completed on November 3, would pave the way for the vaccination of 28 million children in the United States. The latter would receive a third of the dose administered to the over 12s, in two injections spaced three weeks apart.

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Seventeen committee members voted in favor of the measure, one abstained. The vaccine having, according to Pfizer, an effectiveness of 91% against a symptomatic Covid, the authorities considered that the gains outweighed the risks. The main point of debate concerns the risk of myocarditis caused by the product. This inflammation of the heart muscle is a side effect that has been detected in adolescents and young adults in particular. It caused 830 hospitalizations but no deaths in the United States, and no cases were detected in clinical tests of Pfizer. Regarding the Covid, more than 8,000 children in the 5-11 age group have been hospitalized and a hundred have died from the Covid.

Promote a return to normal in schools

Once the vaccine is authorized, 15 million doses will be immediately distributed across the country, where the vaccination, already available for those over 12, should facilitate the return to normalcy in schools. More than 2,000 schools, accommodating more than one million pupils, were forced to close between August and October due to epidemics. According to CDC virologist Fiona Havers, cited by the New York Times, the hospitalization rate for 5-11 year olds is three times higher for black, Hispanic or Native American children than for white children.

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Children from overseas will not need to be vaccinated to travel to the United States from November 8, when the travel ban for people living in 33 countries – including those from Europe, China, Brazil and South Africa. Adults must have been protected against Covid-19 by one of the vaccines recognized by the FDA and the World Health Organization. This measure therefore includes those who have received Chinese vaccines from Sinopharm and Sinovac. You will need to have received two doses, including for a mixture of vaccines. On the other hand, the French choice to apply only one dose to people who have contracted the disease is not considered sufficient.

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Covid-19: towards vaccination of children aged 5 and over in the United States