A child is being dosed with Pfizer-BioNTech’s pediatric coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine.
Mayela Lopez | Reuters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday supported pfizer‘sand ModernCovid-19 vaccinations for children aged 6 months and over, with vaccination expected to start in earnest after the holiday weekend.
The CDC’s committee of independent experts on vaccines voted unanimously to recommend vaccines for infants through preschoolers after two days of public meetings. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky accepted the committee’s recommendation and gave the final go-ahead on Saturday.
The White House said vaccinations for children under 5 will begin in earnest on the Tuesday after the June federal holiday. Appointment availability may be limited initially, but every parent who wishes to have their child vaccinated should be able to do so in the next few weeks. Ashish Jha, overseeing the Biden administration’s response to Covid.
The federal government initially provided 10 million doses of the vaccine to its local partners. There are approximately 20 million children in the US between the ages of 6 months and 5 years.
CDC urges parents to contact their family doctor, local pharmacy, health department, or visit vaccines.gov to find out where their children can be vaccinated.
Almost everyone in the US is now eligible for Covid vaccinations, less than two years after the first shots for seniors were allowed in December 2020.
“I am fully convinced that vaccines should be recommended,” the doctor said. Grace Lee, Chair of the CDC Vaccine Committee. “We can definitely prevent hospitalization and death. And I believe we have the potential to prevent the long-term complications of infections that we don’t yet understand.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in a statement Saturday, urged parents to vaccinate their children and to contact their family doctor with any questions or concerns they may have.
Although Covid is usually less severe in children than in adults, the virus can be life-threatening for some children. Covid is the fifth leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 4. according to CDC. Since January 2020, more than 200 children aged 6 months to 4 years have died from Covid.
More than 2 million children in this age group have contracted Covid during the pandemic, and more than 20,000 have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.
Hospitalizations of children under 5 with Covid skyrocketed during the winter microwave, reaching the highest pandemic level for this age group. The vast majority of them, 86%, were hospitalized primarily due to the impact of Covid on their health. according to CDC. In other words, they were not found in the data because they tested positive for the virus after being hospitalized for another health reason.
According to the CDC, more than 50% of children under the age of 5 who were hospitalized had no comorbidities. Almost a quarter of the children hospitalized in this age group ended up in intensive care.
Nearly 2,000 children under the age of 5 developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, after contracting Covid. MIS-C is a condition in which multiple organ systems become inflamed—the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or digestive organs. Nine children under 5 years of age have died from MIS-C.
“These very clear data just bust the myth that this infection is not life-threatening in this age group,” the doctor said. Sarah Long, committee member and pediatrician at St. Christopher Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.
The Pfizer vaccine is given in three doses to children aged 6 months to 4 years. The injections are dosed at 3 micrograms, which is one tenth of what adults receive. The three shots were about 75% effective in preventing mild illness from omicrons in children aged 6 months to 2 years and 82% effective in children aged 2 to 4 years.
However, vaccine efficacy data are preliminary and inaccurate because they are based on a small population of 10 children with estimates of 14% to 96% protection against omicrons. Dr. Bill Gruber, head of vaccine research at Pfizer, said the antibody response seen in children after the third dose, which was higher than in people aged 16 to 25 who received two shots, should reassure the vaccine is effective.
“In the interests of a sort of total transparency for parents, I think it’s appropriate to acknowledge the uncertainty surrounding this,” said committee member Dr. Matthew Daly spoke about evaluating the effectiveness of the vaccine.
It is imperative that parents who choose Pfizer ensure that their children receive their third vaccine to protect against the virus. Two doses were only 14% effective in preventing infection in children under 2 years of age and 33% effective in children 2 to 4 years of age.
“I don’t want parents to get the impression that two doses is enough,” said Daly, a pediatrician who studies vaccine safety.
Moderna vaccine is given in two doses to children aged 6 months to 5 years. The injections are dosed at 25 micrograms, which is a quarter of the dose that adults receive.
The Moderna vaccine was approximately 51% effective in preventing mild omicron disease in children aged 6 months to 2 years and approximately 37% effective in children aged 2 to 5 years. However, the company expects the vaccine to provide strong protection against severe illness, as children had higher levels of antibodies than adults who received two doses.
Moderna is studying a booster dose targeting omicron for children in this age group, with vaccine safety and expected immune response data expected in the fall. Rituparna Das, Head of Covid Vaccine Development at Moderna.
According to the FDA, the most common side effects of vaccines were pain at the injection site, irritability and crying, loss of appetite, and drowsiness. Several children who received the vaccine developed temperatures above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, and there were no cases of myocarditis, a type of inflammation of the heart, in the Pfizer or Moderna studies.