HomeHealthCDC scientific advisors will meet to discuss vaccines for young children.

CDC scientific advisors will meet to discuss vaccines for young children.


Almost exactly 18 months after the first coronavirus vaccine for adults was licensed, and after months of scientific setbacks, younger Americans may finally get their shots.

About the discussions scheduled for Friday and Saturday.Scientific advisors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will discuss 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. Neither vaccine is intended for babies younger than 6 months.

No surprises expected. On Wednesday, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration unanimously endorsed both vaccines despite scant evidence of their effectiveness, particularly against the strains of coronavirus that are now spreading across the country.

Still, the data generally indicates that both vaccines will at least protect children against serious illness, said Dr. Ofer Levy, director of the precision vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital and an adviser to the FDA.

“These vaccines are largely safe and effective,” he said. “This was a remarkable achievement.”

Assuming advisers back vaccines, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign on. The White House has said that states have already purchased millions of doses and will be ready to offer vaccines to children beginning Tuesday.

But while some parents have been clamoring for vaccines, many others seem hesitant — because their children may have already gained some protection through infection, or because they still have questions about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

Pfizer’s vaccine is available for children ages 5 to 11 from November, but less than 30 percent of children in that age group have received two vaccines.

Uptake of vaccines will depend in part on how clear the CDC’s recommendations are. FDA authorization allows the use of vaccines, but doctors consult the CDC advisory committee for specific information on how to use them.

This time, that advice is likely to be tricky, because the two vaccines differ in almost every way.

For young children receiving the Moderna vaccine, the FDA has authorized two doses of 25 micrograms each, a quarter of the amount used for adults, spaced four weeks apart.

But according to data presented to the agency on Wednesday, two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, each just three micrograms, or a tenth of the adult dose, failed to produce strong immunity against the virus in young children.

To be effective, Pfizer’s vaccine will need to be given in three doses: the first two three weeks apart and a third at least two months later.

The differences will make it difficult for parents and health care providers to choose between the two, Dr. Levy said. But “the puzzle is that they haven’t been compared head-to-head.”

Scientists from both companies will present evidence in support of their vaccines for young children on Friday. Assessors will have an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns before making their recommendations on Saturday.

FDA advisers on Tuesday also endorsed the use of Moderna’s vaccine for children 6 years and older, but the CDC committee has deferred that discussion for now.



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