COVID-19 shots for tots OK’d

Elvira Manzano
01 Jul 2022
COVID-19 shots for tots OK’d

The 2-year wait is over.

The US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have greenlighted the use of Pfizer’s three-shot COVID-19 vaccine and Moderna’s two-shot vaccine for children under 5 years, noting their safety and effectiveness in preventing severe COVID-19 outcomes.

“As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” said FDA Commissioner Dr Robert Califf. “Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data.” 

“Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our fight against COVID-19,” added CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can soon get the shots.”

Walensky endorsed the CDC advisory committee’s unanimous recommendation to vaccinate all children as young as 6 months with either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine but clarified that the agency does not favour one over the other. She said either vaccine is better than no vaccine.

For the Moderna vaccine, the US FDA amended its emergency use authorization (EUA) to include use in babies as young as 6 months up to 17 years. The vaccine is also approved for adults 18 years and older.

For the Pfizer vaccine, the agency amended the EUA to include use in babies aged 6 months to 4 years. The vaccine is already authorized for use in children 5 years and older. 

Virus still around; get the vax

On the heels of the approval, the American Academy of Paediatrics and American Medical Association encouraged parents to get their children vaccinated, saying the coronavirus is “still around.”

“We need to be prepared as we don’t know what’s coming,” said Dr Oliver Brooks, chief medical officer at Watts Healthcare Corp, who also serves on the CDC panel. “But I feel comfortable in saying that vaccinating will be a benefit.”

What you need to know

The newly approved vaccines are the same as they have been all along, only that the youngest kids will get much smaller doses.

The CDC said the COVID-19 shots can be given at the same time as other paediatric vaccines, or any time before or after another vaccine.

On questions about whether children previously infected with the COVID-19 virus should get the shots, the CDC said they should be vaccinated to ward off re-infection. “Vaccination is the safest way to gain broad protection against current and future variants,” pointed out Brooks.

Experts warned during the CDC advisory panel meeting that COVID-19 infection is serious enough among children, hence it should be treated as a risk just like other diseases they are routinely vaccinated for.

“This alone should decimate the myth that COVID-19 infection is not life-threatening in the under 5 age group,” said another CDC panel member Sarah Long, a paediatrics and infectious-disease expert at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.

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