CDC panel votes to recommend Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines for children as young as 6 months

A panel of Centers for Disease Control advisors gave the green light to Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old, finding them both safe and effective.

The next and final step before the injections can be administered nationwide is for CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to issue a recommendation on how doctors, nurses and pharmacists should administer the injections.

His recommendation is expected later Saturday.

The CDC’s panel review and joint support for vaccines comes after the FDA’s independent expert panel also voted on Wednesday to recommend the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, and the FDA cleared the vaccines on Friday.

Vaccines will begin shipping over the weekend and are expected to arrive as early as Monday, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said.

Children could start getting vaccinated on Monday if the CDC director signs off, but given the federal holiday in honor of June 19, some offices could be closed and the shooting is more likely to escalate from Tuesday. .

“As doses are delivered, parents can begin planning for their youngest children’s vaccinations as early as next week, with appointments ramping up over the coming days and weeks,” said President Joe Biden in a statement applauding the news on Friday.

Ten million doses have been made available to states by the federal government for pre-order in recent weeks. Of these, 3.8 million doses have been ordered to date, according to HHS, including 2.5 million Pfizer doses, or about half of the available doses, and 1.3 million Moderna doses, or about a quarter of the doses made available.

Officials warned that pre-orders are usually slow when a new age group becomes eligible for vaccines as doctors and clinics roll out their vaccination programs, but they expected orders to increase in the coming weeks.

A child receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Hartford, Connecticut on November 2, 2021.

Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna said in statements that they were proud to finally be able to offer a vaccine option to parents of the youngest children.

“Children need a very social life to develop and thrive. With this clearance, caregivers of young children aged 6 months to 5 years finally have a way to guard against COVID risks in classrooms and daycares,” said Stéphane Bancel, CEO. by Moderna.

Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said he was “grateful” to those who enrolled children in the clinical trial to make approval possible.

And while vaccines are both valuable options for protecting against COVID, some parents have struggled to decide which vaccine would be best for their child.

The country’s top health officials said on Friday they would give their children the first available vaccine. Dr. Robert Califf, the FDA commissioner, said he had two grandchildren under the age of 5: “They’ll have the first one that’s available,” he said.

“The differences between the two are so much less than the fundamental benefit in terms of the balance of risk,” he told a news conference.

Dr. Peter Marks, the FDA’s head of vaccines, said the same thing, but acknowledged the nuances that particularly careful parents might take into account.

“It may be that the Moderna vaccine provides a slightly faster immune response. On the other hand, Pfizer’s three-dose regiment may also provide a stronger immune response after the third dose, and there are some subtle differences in the profile safety,” said Marc.

“But again, these are relatively subtle, and unless you really want to delve into the subtlety, as a first approximation, the correct answer here is whatever vaccine your pediatric health care professional has, c would give my child,” Marks said.

Data from Moderna, which is a two-shot series, showed that its vaccine was about 40-50% effective in preventing mild infections after the two shots.

But Moderna representatives said they expect a third vaccine, or booster, to be available for children in the coming months – either the current vaccine or the specific omicron vaccine that the company is developing for the fall – which could increase efficiency.

Pfizer’s vaccine is one-tenth the size of the adult dose, given as a series of three injections.

Early data from the company showed it was 80% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. But that protection largely didn’t start until after the third shot – the data showed very minimal protection after doses one and two.

Marks also warned that Pfizer’s data was based on a much smaller group of children and that the FDA was waiting to see more follow-up data to know for sure what the rate of effectiveness was – although they remained convinced that there would be no worries based on other data.

He urged parents to get their children vaccinated regardless of past COVID infections, detailing new studies that showed the omicron variant in particular did not provide the same long-lasting immunity after infection as the vaccine, and said said parents shouldn’t wait until the fall, when there might be a new and improved vaccine, because getting the shot now would boost “core immunity.”

“I would strongly recommend that with the availability of this primary series, which provides excellent baseline immunity against a wide range of COVID-19 variants, that children start this now. And if there turns out to be have a very major strain change due to happen in the fall, we will adjust and ensure there is an option available for younger children and for the full pediatric age range where appropriate said Marks.

“But at the moment it’s something we recommend people start now because it will provide that foundational level of immunity.”

ABC News

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