United States Says' States can order Covid-19 shots for younger kids next week.
The disease has been most dangerous to older adults, who have higher rates of death and hospitalisation than children.
But some kids are at risk for severe illness, and more than 540 US children have died from Covid-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Just as important, health officials believe that vaccinating children will reduce virus spread to vulnerable adults.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are furthest along in researching use of their vaccine in younger children.
They say a two-dose vaccine series one-third as potent as the version giving to people over 12 years old is safe and effective in 5- to 11-year-olds.
An independent expert panel that advises the Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to publicly debate the evidence at a meeting in late October.
If the FDA authorises the kid-size doses, a different expert panel advising the CDC would take up the matter in early November, and then offer a recommendation to the CDC.
United States health officials are setting the stage for a national Covid-19 vaccination campaign for younger children, inviting state officials to order doses before the shots are authorised.
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is currently being given to people as young as 12 in the US. In the next three weeks, federal officials plan to discuss making smaller-dose versions available to the nation’s 28 million children between the ages of 5 and 11.
To help states and cities prepare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week sent out a seven-page document with guidance on how to set up expanded vaccination programs.
For example, it notes pharmacies in every state can give Covid-19 shots to children, but it clarifies that only doses prepared and packaged specifically for children are to be used for those under 12.
It doesn’t speak to some thornier questions, however, such as how much school-based clinics should be relied on or whether kids should be required to get then shots as a condition of school attendance.
Those questions will have to be worked out in each state and city.
The guidance comes as communities are gearing up for a new phase in the 10-month-old effort to vaccinate as many people as possible against a virus that has killed more than 720,000 in the United States.
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