FDA advisor says it’s ‘silly’ not to vaccinate children for COVID-19

An advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on children’s health told the agency on Thursday that children should be vaccinated for COVID-19.

During the FDA’s independent vaccine advisory committee, Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and advisor to the FDA said, "We’re going to have to have a highly vaccinated or highly immune population for years, if not decades, and it just seems silly to think we’re not going to have to include children as part of that," Politico reported.

Offit’s comments come just days after Pfizer said it has begun testing its COVID-19 vaccine in a larger group of younger children.

The company says it has also selected lower dosages of its shot compared to the volume given to individuals 12 and older.

RELATED: Pfizer lowers COVID-19 vaccine dose for younger kids in next stage of trial

"Although data shows that severe #COVID19 is rare in children, widespread vaccination is a critical tool to help stop transmission. That’s why I’m excited we have begun dosing participants aged 5 to 11 in a global Phase 2/3 study of the Pfizer-BioNTech #COVID19 vaccine," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement on Twitter .

Last month, an advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to endorse the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for older children ages 12 to 15, one of the final steps toward making the shots widely available for the age group in an effort to speed up the return to schools.

The FDA has given an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine in individuals 12 and older. Everyone in this group receives two-30 microgram doses, also spaced three weeks apart.

On May 25, Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12.

While children are far less likely than adults to get seriously ill from the novel coronavirus, they represent about 14% of the nation’s cases. At least 316 children have died in the U.S. alone, according to a tally by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

With plenty of vaccine supply in the U.S., younger teens flocked to get Pfizer’s shot in the days after the FDA opened it to them, part of a push to get as many kids vaccinated as possible before the next school year.

More than 6 million adolescents have received at least one dose of the Pfizer shot in the U.S., data from the CDC shows.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. Kelly Hayes and The Associated Press contributed.