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immunization across the nation

FDA advisory panel backs Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11

An independent panel advising the FDA voted Tuesday in favor of authorizing Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for use in kids ages 5-11, NPR reports.

The advisory committee found the shot's benefits to outweigh its risks, and voted 17-0 (with one abstention) in favor of its recommendation, writes The Washington Post. The FDA is subsequently expected to issue a final authorization decision within the next few days. The agency typically moves in tandem with its expert panels, though it isn't required to do so, per NPR.

Dr. Ashish Jha said the "terrific" decision comes as "no surprise." "They got it right," he said.

Experts told the Post that immunizations in young children will represent a "milestone" in the ongoing pandemic. "To me, it seems that it is a hard decision but a clear one," said Patrick S. Moore, a microbiologist at the University of Pittsburgh.

Next week, the CDC's panel of outside advisers will conduct a review of the FDA's decision. Then, pending its decision coupled with CDC Director Rochelle Wolensky's final approval, writes the Post, "providers would be able to give the two-dose regimen as soon as the first week of November."