The CDC panel recommends the current two-dose Covid vaccine for children ages 6 to 17.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to ModernA two-dose Covid-19 vaccine for preschoolers and high schoolers for public distribution this week after a panel of independent agency experts voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend vaccinations.

The committee approved the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 to 17 after reviewing its safety and efficacy during a public meeting. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign the recommendation later on Thursday, which will be the last step before pharmacies and doctors’ offices can start vaccinating.

CDC approved Moderna vaccines for infants through preschoolers, ages 6 months to 5 years, on Saturday. Vaccinations for this age group began this week.

Moderna vaccines for older children will not have an immediate impact on the U.S. vaccination campaign other than giving parents another option. Previously, only the Pfizer vaccine was approved for children from kindergarten to high school, although its use was weak. Two-thirds of children aged 5 to 11 and 30% of adolescents aged 12 to 17 have not yet been vaccinated against Covid.

More than 600 children in these age groups have died from Covid during the pandemic, and more than 45,000 have been hospitalized, according to the CDC. Nearly 11 million children aged 5 to 17 have contracted Covid during the pandemic.

Children aged 6 to 11 receive a smaller 50 mcg of the current vaccines, while adolescents aged 12 to 17 receive the same dose as adults, 100 mcg.

Moderna originally asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its vaccine for teens aged 12 to 17 over a year ago, but the regulator held back after other countries raised concerns that the company’s vaccines could be associated with a higher risk of heart inflammation or myocarditis. than the Pfizer vaccine.

In the US, there are no direct comparisons of heart inflammation in children who receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines because Moderna was only approved for adults until this month. However, a comparison of Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations in young adults appears to indicate that the incidence of myocarditis is somewhat higher in Moderna recipients, although data across the various US surveillance systems are inconsistent.

“Some evidence suggests that the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis may be higher with Moderna than with Pfizer. This was reported to the committee by Tom Shimabukuro, a member of the CDC Vaccine Safety Division.

The US data on myocarditis among children aged 6 to 17 years are based on the side effects of the Pfizer vaccine, as Moderna vaccines have not yet been approved for this age group. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use similar messenger RNA technology.

The CDC identified 635 cases of myocarditis among children aged 5 to 17 years after vaccination out of 54 million doses of Pfizer administered. The risk of myocarditis after Pfizer vaccination is highest after the second vaccination among boys aged 12 to 17 years. Myocarditis is slightly increased in boys aged 5 to 11 years after a second dose of Pfizer vaccine, although it is much lower than in adolescents.

According to the CDC, boys aged 16 to 17 reported 75 cases of myocarditis per 1 million seconds of Pfizer doses administered, while boys aged 12 to 15 years reported 46 cases of myocarditis. Boys aged 5 to 11 reported 2.6 cases of myocarditis per million doses of Pfizer administered.

People who develop myocarditis after vaccination are usually hospitalized for a few days as a precaution before being sent home. According to a CDC survey of medical professionals, most patients have fully recovered 90 days after diagnosis.

The CDC has determined that the risk myocarditis is higher from Covid infection than from vaccination. Myocarditis in children is usually caused by viral infections.

Dr. Sarah Oliver, a spokesperson for the CDC, said the risk of myocarditis following modern vaccinations in children and adolescents is unknown, although data from adults suggests the risk may be higher than the Pfizer vaccines. However, Oliver said that increasing the interval between the first and second doses to eight weeks may reduce the risk of myocarditis, based on data provided by health officials in Canada.

The most common side effects among children aged 6 to 17 during moderna’s clinical trials were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain, and nausea. There were no confirmed cases of myocarditis during the trials.

It is not yet clear how effective shots will be against the micron variant. Clinical trials were conducted during periods when other strains of Covid dominated. Vaccinations for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years were about 90% effective in preventing the original strain of Covid and the alpha variant, while vaccinations for children aged 6 to 11 years were more than 76% effective in preventing diseases from the delta variant. to FDA review of clinical trial data.

However, Covid vaccines do not do well against the omicron variant, which is now dominant because it has so many mutations. Third shots have significantly increased protection in other age groups. Moderna is studying Omicron-targeted vaccines for children, with data expected later this summer.

“We expect to fill this gap in booster dose recommendations during the summer and early fall,” the doctor said. Doran Fink, Senior FDA Vaccine Officer.