Covid: US approves Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year olds and begins swift rollout

A 12-year-old getting a vaccine in New York City Credit: AP

The United States has approved the Pfizer/BionNTech jab for 5-11 year olds as it moves swiftly to enter the next stage of its vaccine rollout.

Hospitals, schools and clinics across the country were all poised to begin offering jabs to the children as soon as the announcement was made.

The children will be given one-third of a normal dose with special kid-sized needles.

They will be offered two of these smaller doses the usual three weeks apart and be required to wait two more weeks before they have full protection.

A Pfizer study of 2,268 children found the vaccine was almost 91% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 infections.

The US Food and Drug Administration examined 3,100 vaccinated kids in concluding the shots are safe.

Only the Pfizer jab is approved for children aged 5-11 Credit: AP

Top government medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said recently the Delta variant meant children infected and transmit "just as readily as adults do" when justifying the need to vaccinate a group who are rarely severely affected by Covid-19.

Since the pandemic began in the US at least 94 children aged 5 to 11 have died from Covid-19, more than 8,300 have been hospitalised and over 5,000 have developed a serious inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus.The US as a whole has recorded almost 750,000 deaths from Covid-19.

The announcement of the approval will likely be of interest to governments around the world who have only approved the jab for people aged 12 and over.

The UK approved the Pfizer vaccine for people aged 12 and over in September, many months later than other advanced nations.

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Kathy Zordan from Illinois said she was “super excited” for her kindergartner, five-year-old Liam.

“I told him, ‘Mommy got two shots, Daddy got two shots. This is why people are wearing masks. Hopefully at some point we don’t have to keep wearing the mask. You’re going to get the shots.'"

"He goes to school, he’s among hundreds of other kids every single day and I want him to have this protection," Zordan added.Hannah Hause, a Colorado mother of four children ages two, five, 7 and 8, said she was not in any rush.

She’s vaccinated but wants more time to see how the child vaccines play out and are studied in the larger childhood population.

“It’s not studied long-term. It just makes me nervous because that’s my whole world,” she said of her children.

“As long as I can wait, I will wait,” she said.

The US government has promised to provide enough vaccines for the nation's 28 million children.

Pfizer said it expects to make 19,000 shipments totalling about 11 million doses in the next several days, and that millions more will be available to order on a weekly basis.

The city of Chicago said they expected to have nearly enough vaccine in just the first week for nearly half of its 210,000 school-aged children, and many more doses later on.