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US expert panel backs authorising Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11

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A US advisory committee backed authorising the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11, clearing the way for the vaccine to become available to millions of children.

The 18-member panel of experts advising the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted unanimously with one abstention in favour of extending the vaccine’s authorisation to children.

Experts debated whether the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the potential risks, including heart inflammation that was observed in some young adults who received a higher dose of the vaccine.

The FDA is expected to make its own decision on the vaccine soon.

Children are at lower risk of severe COVID-19 than older people but this age group has still have faced substantial illness — including over 8,300 hospitalisations and nearly 100 deaths.

The experts said that there needed to be continued surveillance to determine whether there was any heart inflammation resulting from the vaccine.

Pfizer’s study tracked 2,268 children ages 5 to 11 who got two shots three weeks apart of either a placebo or the kid dose.

The children developed levels of virus-fighting antibodies just as strong as teens and young adults who got the full-strength shots.

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