Vaccine advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted 17-0 with one abstention Tuesday to recommend Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11.

The panel endorsed giving the age group one-third of the dosage given to people 12 and older in two shots, three weeks apart. The committee’s recommendations on whether to authorize vaccines are not binding, but the FDA usually follows them in the days after the vote. The FDA’s outside experts voted after regulators argued that thousands of children ages 5-11 have been hospitalized with Covid-19 and nearly 100 have died over the course of the pandemic. 17 committee members voted in favor of the pediatric dose; one abstained.

That will turn the matter over to the CDC, which has its own panel scheduled to weigh in next week to make additional recommendations about who should receive the shots, for example, whether the vaccines should be limited to certain groups of children. Once CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signs off on those recommendations, young children can get start getting their shots.

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Avrumy Schwartz

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