CDC advisors meet to discuss vaccines for youngest children
Almost exactly 18 months after the first coronavirus vaccine was approved for use in adults, and after months of scientific research, the youngest Americans can finally get the vaccine.
Discussions are scheduled for Friday and SaturdayCenters for Disease Control and Prevention’s scientific advisers will debate the use of Moderna’s vaccine for children under 6 years of age and Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children under 5 years of age.
No surprises are expected. On Wednesday, advisors to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously agree both vaccines though thin evidence of their effectivenessespecially against the variants of the coronavirus that are now spreading across the country.
Ofer Levy, director of the precision vaccine program at Boston Children’s Hospital and an FDA advisor, said the data shows that both vaccines will at least protect children against serious illness. important.
These vaccines are largely safe and effective, he said. “This is a remarkable achievement.”
Assuming the advisors are in favor of a vaccine, the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, is expected to sign the contract. The White House has said that the states there have been millions of doses and will be getting ready to vaccinate children as early as Tuesday.
But while some parents are calling for vaccines, many others seem hesitant – because their children may have gain some protection due to infection, or because they still have doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine has been available to children aged 5 to 11 since November, but less than 30 percent Children in that age group have been given two shots.
Acceptance of the vaccine will depend in part on the clarity of the CDC’s recommendations. FDA approval allows vaccines to be used, but doctors will look to the CDC’s advisory committee for specifics on how to use them.
That advice is likely to be complicated this time around, because the two vaccines are different in almost every respect.
For young children receiving the Moderna vaccine, the FDA allows two doses of 25 micrograms, one-quarter of the dose used for adults, four weeks apart.
But according to data presented Wednesday to the agency, two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine — just 3 micrograms each, or a tenth of the adult dose — did not produce strong immunity. powerful against the virus in young children.
To be effective, the Pfizer vaccine will need to be given in three doses: the first two doses three weeks apart, and the third dose at least two months later.
The differences make it difficult for parents and healthcare providers to choose between the two, says Dr. Levy. But “the conundrum is that they haven’t been compared head-to-head.”
Scientists from both companies will present evidence in favor of their vaccines for young children on Friday. Advisors will have the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns before they make their recommendations on Saturday.
FDA advisories on Tuesday also endorse the use of Moderna’s vaccines in children 6 years of age and olderbut the CDC committee has now adjourned that discussion.