After FDA Approval, Israel to Debate COVID Vaccines for Kids

pfizer vaccine kids
Kid-size doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. (Pfizer via AP)

The Health Ministry will publicly broadcast a meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Corona Vaccines and Epidemic Control, where members will discuss the issue of giving coronavirus vaccines to children ages five to 11 after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the vaccine for this age cohort on Friday.

The live event will take place on Thursday, Nov. 4, and is meant to help build trust among the public in whatever decision the Health Ministry makes about vaccinating kids.

A survey released last week by Meuhedet Health Maintenance Organization found that less than 50% of parents are planning to give their five- to 11-year-olds the coronavirus vaccine. But the majority of Israeli health officials have said they believe the shot is safe and effective, and unless new information surfaces, the vaccines are likely to gain authorization in Israel too.

“I think we will move toward vaccinating this age group,” said Dr. David Dvir, head of the Primary Care Division at Meuhedet Health Maintenance Organization and a member of the advisory committee.

“Nowadays, as more than 50% of infected people are children, it is more important than ever to vaccinate children,” added Dr. Galia Barkai, the head of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center.

The FDA authorized a 10-microgram dose of the Pfizer vaccine for children aged five to 11 years on Friday, lower than the 30 micrograms in the original vaccine for those aged 12 and older. The vaccine is to be administered in a two-dose regimen, 21 days apart.

For the pediatric shots, the FDA has authorized an updated version of the vaccine, which uses a new buffer and allows them to be stored in refrigerators for up to 10 weeks.

Pfizer said the vaccine showed 90.7% efficacy against the coronavirus in a clinical trial of children aged 5 to 11.

Pfizer said that it would be immediately shipping the shots to pharmacies, pediatrician offices and other places where the vaccine may be administered. However, it will only be available in the U.S. after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise on how the shot should be administered, which will happen on Tuesday.