Vaccines for young children finally
Islam News – In a move that millions of parents across the country have been anxiously waiting for, outside advisers to the F.D.A. greenlit vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for use in children under 5 — the only age group not yet eligible for the shots. If all goes well, doses for children could be given out as early as next week.
Today, C.D.C. advisers reviewed data from Pfizer’s three-shot vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years old, and Moderna’s two-shot vaccine for children 6 months through 5 years old. After hours of discussion, the advisers voted 21 to 0 to authorize both shots. The F.D.A. has said that clinical trial data from the companies shows that each vaccine meets the criteria for safety and effectiveness in the age group.
“There are so many parents who are absolutely desperate to get this vaccine,” said Dr. Jay Portnoy, a professor of pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. “And I think we owe it to them to give them the choice.”
From here, things should move quickly.
The F.D.A. will now consider the advisory panel’s recommendation. The agency usually follows the advisory panel’s advice, but it is free to make changes or reject the recommendation outright. The agency is poised to clear the recommendation as early as the end of the week.
If the F.D.A. authorizes the vaccines, a C.D.C. advisory panel will review that decision and vote on whether to recommend the pediatric vaccines. The C.D.C. panel is scheduled to meet on Friday and Saturday.
Already, the Biden administration has taken advance orders from states around the country for 10 million pediatric doses, and it has set a goal for the first shots to be given to children next week.
While the U.S. may soon have near-universal eligibility, some difficult questions remain.
Both pediatric vaccines appear significantly less effective against symptomatic infection than the adult vaccines did when they were first introduced in December 2020. The F.D.A. attributes that to the fact that the Omicron variant is far more adept at evading the vaccines’ defenses than the original version was. (Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will most likely require a booster dose.)
After two doses, Pfizer’s vaccine was only about 28 percent effective in preventing symptomatic infection in children ages 6 months through 4 years. Pfizer suggested the vaccine was 80 percent effective after a third dose, but that finding was based on incomplete data.
Moderna found its vaccine to be 51 percent effective at preventing symptomatic infection in children 6 months to 2 years old, and 37 percent effective in children ages 2 to 5. However, immunization continues to offer strong protection against severe disease that can lead to hospitalization and death.
“The biggest impact is you take away the rare chance of something bad happening,” said Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Experts also do not expect the vaccines to change the overall trajectory of the pandemic. Many children have already been infected with the coronavirus — as many as 75 percent as of February, according to one estimate.
Vaccine uptake among children overall has also been low. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey published last month, just 18 percent of parents with children under the age of 5 said they were eager to vaccinate their children right away.
“It’s not like this is finally going to end the pandemic,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a professor of epidemiology and the inaugural director of the Pandemic Center at the Brown University School of Public Health. But the vaccines could offer more flexibility for families, day cares and preschools. “I do think what will be really great is to help these kids go back to having normal lives,” she said.
Source: The New York Times