Story at a glance
- State agencies should order doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ahead of federal approval, Gov. Whitmer said.
- Whitmer called the pediatric vaccine a “game changer” in the nation’s fight against COVID-19.
- FDA Advisors met today to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children ages 5 to 11.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) on Tuesday instructed state agencies to order Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 ahead of federal approval to expedite pediatric vaccinations once authorization has been granted.
Whitmer said vaccinating children is a critical step toward nationwide immunization against the coronavirus and called on parents to “sign up to protect their kids,” The Associated Press reported.
“My directive today ensures equitable, expedited distribution of the vaccines,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This is a game-changer for our kids that will protect them as they continue to learn in-person in the classroom this school year, participate in extracurricular activities, or see friends and family this holiday season.”
Michigan has already pre-ordered 287,000 doses of the child-safe vaccine, according to the AP. That should ensure the supply of vaccines is quickly available once approval is granted, but it still falls short of the state’s 825,000 5 to 11-year-olds, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Republican state senators in Michigan have already passed legislation that bars health and school officials from requiring COVID-19 vaccination in children without full federal approval. The bill also prohibits mandatory mask mandates in schools and COVID-19 testing requirements for asymptomatic students. Whitmer, a Democrat, is likely to veto those measures if they are approved by the House, according to the AP.
Results from a “pivotal trial” of a COVID-19 vaccine in children last month were encouraging, producing antibody levels comparable to those observed in vaccinated adults, according to vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech.
Advisors for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday endorsed the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in 5 to 11-year olds. The FDA is expected to make its own decision in the next few days.
The FDA has given full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 and older, while the other two — Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — have emergency use authorization. Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine also has emergency authorization for 12 to 15-year-olds.
From January to October, unvaccinated Michiganders accounted for more than 93 percent of COVID-19 cases and more than 90 percent of hospitalizations and deaths in the state, according to local NBC affiliate Mid-Michigan NOW.
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