NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Another big step was taken Tuesday in the effort to vaccinate younger children against COVID-19.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel endorsed Pfizer‘s vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. That means shots could be available in a matter of weeks, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.

The advisory panel gave a vote of confidence to the Pfizer vaccine, which would be two low doses, three weeks apart. Of 18 voting members, 17 voted yes and one abstained.

The move comes amid a debate around the country by parents over whether kids should be vaccinated.

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“I’m all about the vaccine, so if we are getting to that point where we can get the kids vaccinated, yeah, absolutely, I would be for that,” said Adam Giambattista of Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“We’re waiting for it,” said Claudia Sullivan, of the Upper West Side.

She and her 11-year-old son, Nate, are excited that he will soon be able to get the vaccine.

“I think it’s a good idea to get everyone, like, all the kids vaccinated. We can get COVID done, and kids are the only ones left,” Nate said.

Pfizer says its two-shot, low-dose vaccine is nearly 91% effective in the 5-11 age group, but nonetheless, a recent study found more than one-third of parents would not get their children vaccinated.

“I think about holding off until more studies are done because it’s children,” Park Slope’s Tina Marie said.

“First, I would check his pediatrician and trusted sources, but if that’s what they are recommending to keep him safe and healthy and happy, I’ll do what I gotta do,” Bridget Burke added.

Parents are mostly concerned about side effects, but doctors say kids are safer with a shot.

“Vaccinated children will not spread the COVID virus to their unvaccinated friends, as well as adults in their family who can’t be vaccinated, like Nana and Pop-Pop,” CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez said.

COVID VACCINE

FDA officials say the need for vaccinations for children is clear since about 9% of all COVID cases involve kids in the 5-to-11 age group.

“This is a really important reservoir of the virus right now. About 25% of the new cases are in kids and we have the ability to put that fire out by vaccinating children,” George Washington University professor of medicine Dr. Jonathan Reiner said.

“The Pfizer application for its pediatric vaccine was for two doses of 10 micrograms each, and, like the adult shots, they were given three weeks apart. Those pediatric doses, though, are one-third of the adult doses and were chosen because they optimize the immune response to the vaccine and minimize the side effects of the shots,” Gomez said.

Pfizer had held a pediatric trial at Duke University with 4,500 children, including 7-year-old Lydia Melo and her 5-year-old sister, Bridgette.

“It was sort of something brave to do, and we thought it would keep us safe,” Lydia said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The virus also disrupted the school year. More than 2,000 schools nationally had unplanned closures, impacting more than 1 million students, Brennan reported.

“This is fantastic news that our youngest New Yorkers are going to be eligible for the vaccine,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

FLASHBACK: Pfizer Applies For Emergency Use Authorization For Its COVID Vaccine In Children 5-11

The mayor said a vaccine rollout for kids in the city could begin as early as the end of next week.

“We have a lot of sites ready, as always, and we’re certainly going to consider what we need to do in our schools as well,” de Blasio said.

About 28 million children nationally could be eligible for the two-shot, lower-dose vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control still has to vote on it as well, and final approval could come as early as next week.

The White House says it has secured enough Pfizer doses to vaccinate every eligible child, and those doses will begin going to pharmacies and pediatricians’ offices as soon as the decision is finalized.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared on October 26, 2021. 

Dick Brennan