As coronavirus vaccines move closer to availability for children, toddlers, and preschoolers, some are wondering what side effects might accompany the vaccine?
On Saturday, advisers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously decided that coronavirus vaccines should be open to children as young as 6 months old. Final signing was expected later in the day by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
So far, studies from Moderna and Pfizer have shown side effects, including fever and fatigue, to be mostly minor.
Cardiac inflammation sometimes occurs in adolescents and young adults, mostly men, after receiving Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
However, the CDC recently found that the risk of myocarditis and other inflammatory syndromes was higher after COVID infection than after Pfizer or Moderna vaccination in men and women ages 5 and older.
Moderna has previously said that, armed with additional evidence, it is updating its FDA app for teens and also seeking a green light for ages 6 to 11. Dr Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, said he was optimistic the company would be able to offer its vaccine “to all age groups in the United States by summer”.
Moderna says its original adult dose — two 100-microgram injections — is safe and effective in ages 12 to 17. For children of primary school age, it uses half the adult dose.
About 1.5 million teenagers have used the Moderna vaccine in other countries, “and so far we’ve seen very reassuring safety from that experience,” Hoge said.
Cardiac risk also appears to be linked to puberty, and regulators in Canada, Europe and elsewhere have recently extended Moderna vaccinations to children as young as 6 years old.
“This concern has not been observed in young children,” said Muller of Northwestern.
Why do health officials say children should be vaccinated?
While young children typically don’t get as sick from COVID-19 as older children and adults, their hospitalizations increased during the omicron wave and FDA advisers determined that the benefits of vaccination outweighed the benefits. minimal risks.
Walensky said pediatric deaths from COVID-19 are higher than what is typically seen from the flu each year.
“So I actually think we need to protect young children, as well as protect everyone with the vaccine and especially protect the elderly,” she said.
In a study of children aged 6 months to 5 years, two injections of Moderna – each representing a quarter of the usual dose – triggered high levels of anti-virus antibodies, the same amount proven to protect young adults. , the company said.
The shots triggered fewer fevers than other routine vaccinations, officials said.
The vaccine was found to be between about 40% and 50% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 during the trial. The company blamed the omicron variant’s ability to partially evade vaccine immunity, noting that unboosted adults also showed less efficacy against milder omicron infections.
Although no children became seriously ill during the study, Moderna noted that high antibody levels are an indicator of protection against more serious illnesses – and the company will test a child booster dose.
COVID-19 vaccines aren’t as effective against the super-contagious omicron mutant — in people of any age — and Moderna’s study found the same trend.
Meanwhile, preliminary data suggests that the three-dose series from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech is 80% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID, the companies said, but they cautioned that the calculation is based on just 10 cases diagnosed among study participants at the end of April. .
Study rules state that at least 21 cases are needed to formally determine efficacy, and Pfizer has promised an update as soon as more data becomes available.
“The study suggests that a low dose of 3 micrograms of our vaccine, carefully selected based on safety data, provides young children with a high level of protection against recent strains of COVID-19,” he said. he said in a statement.