After a discussion where it was pointed out that more than 40% of American children ages 5 to 11 had contracted COVID-19 by the end of June, a panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers voted 17-0 Tuesday to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for kids that age.
The resounding support is a major step forward for making school-age children eligible for inoculation - likely by next week - but there are still three crucial hurdles to clear: The FDA will have to sign off, an independent CDC advisory panel will review the data, and then the CDC director would have to give her clearance.
Pfizer-BioNTech reported 10 micrograms of their vaccine, a third of the dose administered to adults, is 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID, a growing concern for children.
One study presented by the CDC found that 42% of children ages 5 to 11 in the U.S. had been infected with COVID-19 as of the end of June. The highest hospitalization rates for children occurred in September, so many kids remained susceptible after the summer, the CDC's Dr. Fiona Havers told the committee.
Support for the children's vaccine comes as a USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University shows that new coronavirus infections are down 56.8% nationwide since the delta variant surge peaked in the first week of September.
Also in the news:
►The North Dakota Department of Health switched off comments on its social media accounts, saying it was doing so to combat the spread of misinformation. The comment ban "will be applied to all posts, and not be specific to any particular topic," the agency said.
►A Brazilian Senate committee recommended on Tuesday that President Jair Bolsonaro face a series of criminal indictments for actions and omissions related to the world's second-highest COVID-19 death toll.
►Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing for the state Legislature to authorize $5,000 bonuses and other incentives to lure police officers from other states. More specifically, DeSantis is aiming to recruit officers from jurisdictions with vaccine requirements who don't want to comply, encouraging them to relocate to the mandate-less Sunshine State.
???? Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 45 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 738,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 244 million cases and 4.9 million deaths. More than 190 million Americans - 57% of the population - are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
???? What we're reading: COVID is more dangerous for kids than the season flu - but RSV might be even worse, according to a USA TODAY analysis. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is particularly dangerous for kids, killing 100 to 500 children a year.