The Food and Drug Administration on Friday voted to recommend Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to kids ages 5 to 11, but steps remain before children will be able to receive injections.
The FDA cleared kid-size doses – just a third of the amount given to teens and adults –for emergency use, and up to 28 million more American children could be eligible for vaccinations as early as next week.
One more regulatory hurdle remains: On Tuesday, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make more detailed recommendations on which youngsters should get vaccinated, with a final decision by the agency’s director expected shortly afterward.
“With this vaccine, kids can go back to something that’s better than being locked at home on remote schooling, not being able to see their friends,” said Dr. Kawsar Talaat of Johns Hopkins University. “The vaccine will protect them and also protect our communities.”
The only age group that has official approval from the FDA is people 16 and older. Teenagers and children from 12 to 15 have also been authorized to get the vaccine under emergency use.
With FDA’s action, Pfizer plans to begin shipping millions of vials of the pediatric vaccine – with orange caps to avoid mix-ups with the purple-capped doses for everyone else – to doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other vaccination sites. Kids will get two shots, three weeks apart.
While children are at lower risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 than older people, 5- to 11-year-olds still have been seriously affected – including over 8,300 hospitalizations, about a third requiring intensive care, and nearly 100 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the FDA.
Also in the news:
►The Navajo Nation reported 97 more COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the the tribe’s totals to 36,508 cases. Its health department issued an advisory notice for 48 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is running unopposed for a second term to head the global agency overseeing the world’s pandemic response.
►Chinese organizers have confirmed participants in next year’s Winter Olympics will be strictly isolated from the general population and could face expulsion for violating COVID-19 restrictions.
►Ohio State University researchers have created a breath test that appears to be highly accurate at rapidly screening patients for COVID-19.
►Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis is trying to lure California-based chain In-N-Out to the Sunshine State amid closures of some locations because employees have gone against local ordinances to check customers’ vaccine statuses.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded 45 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 743,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 245 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 191 million Americans – 57% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC
Florida files lawsuit against Biden administration over vaccines
Florida has filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the Biden administration from carrying out a measure to require vaccinations against COVID-19 for federal employees and contractors.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made the announcement at a news conference Thursday morning where he described the mandate for federal contractors as “heavy-handed” and an overreach by the federal government. He said Florida will seek a preliminary injunction that would block the federal rule from taking effect Dec. 8 as scheduled.
Thursday’s announcement is the latest salvo in DeSantis’ ongoing battle with the administration of President Joe Biden over federal vaccine requirements. Biden says the vaccine mandate will help bring an end to the pandemic.
However, 21 Republican state attorneys general Wednesday penned a letter to Biden saying the mandate “stands on shaky legal ground” for federal contractors.
DeSantis also blasted a pending rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that would compel companies with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations or frequent COVID-19 tests for workers.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education asked an administrative judge Thursday to issue a cease and desist order against Florida and rule the state is violating federal law as it tries to cut aid money to two school districts over their mask mandates.
– Gary White, The Ledger
Iowans could have wider latitude to claim medical and religious exemptions from employer COVID-19 vaccination mandates — and would qualify for unemployment benefits if a business fires them for not complying — under a bill state lawmakers approved Thursday.
The bill, which immediately drew criticism from business representatives and opponents of vaccine mandates, would mark a significant change in the way Iowa approaches vaccination requirements by employers if Gov. Kim Reynolds signs it into law.
“Not only do I plan to sign this legislation, but I am committed to doing even more,” she said in a Thursday news release.
The Republican bill specifies that employees who refuse the vaccine and are fired would not be disqualified from benefits.