Coronavirus: CDC director signs off on vaccines for children 5 and under

Advisers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday voted to recommend Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children 5 and under.

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Update 3:24 p.m. EDT June 18: Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signed off on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice recommendation to allow Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for children 5 and under. Shots will be administered starting next week, according to The Associated Press.

“We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” Walenskysaid in a statement.

“We’ve taken a major step forward today,” Dr. Oliver Brooks, one of the members of the CDC’s panel, told the AP after the recommendation.

Original report: The recommendation now goes to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who is expected to make the final signoff later Saturday.

The unanimous green light by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice comes after Friday’s emergency use authorization vote by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize the vaccines for children 5 and under and as young as 6 months.

The ACIP, in two separate ballots, voted to recommend both vaccines by a 12-0 vote.

The approval clears a key hurdle in expanding eligibility for vaccines to babies, toddlers and preschoolers, CBS News and The Associated Press reported.

On Friday, the CDC’s advisers heard evidence supporting the effectiveness of the vaccines, The New York Times reported. Committee members pressed Pfizer-BioNTech on its estimates, noting that three doses of that vaccine would be needed to protect children. Moderna vaccines require only two doses.

On Wednesday, an FDA panel endorsed recommending the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer.

The FDA panel decided that the benefits of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccination series outweigh the risks for children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years and 6 months and 4 years, respectively.

That means U.S. children under 5 will be eligible for the shots, about 1 1/2 years after the vaccines first became available in the U.S. for adults, the AP reported.

The FDA also authorized Moderna’s vaccine for school-aged children and teens. Pfizer’s shots had previously been the only ones available for those ages.

Pfizer’s vaccine for children is for 6 months through 4 years. It is one-tenth of the adult dose and three shots are required, according to the AP. The first two are given three weeks apart, with the final shot to follow at least two months later.

Moderna’s vaccine only requires two shots for children 6 months through 5, with each 25% of its adult dose, the AP reported. The shots are given about four weeks apart for children under 6.

The Pfizer vaccine was authorized for children 5 to 11 in November 2021, but fewer than 30% in that age group have received two shots, the Times reported.