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US Gives Final Clearance To COVID-19 Shots For Kids 5 to 11

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) -- U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign.

The Food and Drug Administration already authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11 — doses just a third of the amount given to teens and adults. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines.

The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer's shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.

Millions of shots made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have already been shipped to states, doctors' offices and pharmacies, to be ready for CDC's decision.

The move paves the way for more than half a million children to get vaccinated in Maryland. Governor Larry Hogan said in late October the state has ordered over 180,000 kids doses with more to come.

For children, there will be smaller doses and smaller needles. In Maryland, the vaccines will mostly be given through pediatricians and school-based clinics.

While most children who contract COVID-19 get only minor symptoms, doctors said some experience major complications, and the risk of severe disease is higher than the remote risk of serious vaccine side effects.

Just under 560 people younger than 18 have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to data from the CDC. Others have developed a severe condition known as multi-symptom inflammatory syndrome in children, which often requires hospitalization.

According to Maryland's COVID-19 Data Dashboard, three children are in acute hospital care and two kids are in intensive care as of Tuesday morning.

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