PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- 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.
Ahead of the approval, Philadelphia-area pediatricians said they were receiving calls from parents asking to book appointments to get the shot.
Dr. Jonathan Miller, of Nemours Children's Hospital Delaware, said last week his office put in orders for the vaccine but they were waiting for the approval to become official before scheduling any appointments.
Miller is recommending his 5 to 11-year-old patients receive the vaccine and is offering a piece of advice for parents who may be hesitant.
"Many people have healthy kids and they're concerned about a new vaccine and potential side effects," said Miller.
He went on to explain why he thinks it is important to get children vaccinated:
"The coronavirus at this point isn't behaving the same way it was a year and a half ago, and it really is impacting children. They're getting sick and hospitalized, and in the U.S., hundreds of kids have died of COVID."
Miller also added the wider effect the unvaccinated have on others, saying how vaccinating young kids, in turn, protects others, including older relatives.
"It could really be devastating if a child were to bring COVID-19 into the house. This is proven to be a very safe vaccine; billions of people have gotten this vaccine so far. It's important to weigh the risk of the COVID disease for children and families as opposed to the theoretical risk and really what we're seeing is a safe vaccine. There are no serious long-term side effects of any of the vaccines that are recommended for children, so in general, there's not really a precedent for any concern about long-term side effects with the vaccine," he said.
A clinical trial showed the benefits of the Pfizer vaccine outweighed the risks of rare side effects. Still, there are parents who even with the FDA approval still have pause.
One issue that is sure to come up with his latest rollout is the strain on the healthcare system nationwide considering staffing issues.
This latest age group to be approved is far greater than the previous age group recently approved for vaccine use.