File Photo | Photo: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

The CDC gave their official sign-off for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years old, allowing the age group to begin receiving the vaccine immediately.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation.

The CDC said there are approximately 28 million children in the United States in this age group. Providers are allowed to begin vaccinating the age group immediately.

The AP reported that the Food and Drug Administration has already given their authorization for the 5-11 age group.

Earlier on Tuesday, the CDC’s ACIP panel unanimously gave their approval. Walensky’s recommendation was the last step in the approval process.

The CDC said that COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (inflammatory syndromes) and long-term complications, such as “long COVID,” in which symptoms can linger for months.

The spread of the Delta variant resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases in children throughout the summer.

According to the CDC, during a 6-week period in late June to mid-August, COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and adolescents increased fivefold.

Pfizer’s kid-sized vaccine was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years, the CDC said.

In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild, self-limiting and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.

The CDC said that COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the “most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history.”

“Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and therefore reducing their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications,” the CDC said in a statement Tuesday.

“Getting your children vaccinated can help protect them against COVID-19, as well as reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission.”

Distribution of pediatric vaccinations across the country started this week, with plans to scale up to full capacity starting the week of November 8.