Scientific advisers to the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for kids ages 5 by means of 11, a transfer that may buttress defenses towards a potential surge as winter arrives and ease the concerns of tens of tens of millions of pandemic-weary dad and mom.
If Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the company’s director, formally accepts the advice, as anticipated, inoculations for these kids might start as quickly as this week. Dr. Walensky made a short look because the assembly started, noting that the day was “one which many people have been very desperate to see.”
The C.D.C. panel’s endorsement arrives simply as Individuals put together for a doubtlessly dangerous vacation season. Instances in the USA have been falling steadily for weeks, however specialists have warned that indoor gatherings could ship the charges hovering once more. Many Individuals appear decided to rejoice; already airways are bracing for what will be the busiest journey season for the reason that begin of the pandemic.
Whereas comparatively few of the 29 million kids on this age group shall be absolutely immunized a month from now, even partial vaccination will present some safety towards the coronavirus. Each million doses given to kids ages 5 to 11 would forestall about 58,000 instances and 226 hospitalizations in that group, in line with the C.D.C.
Immunizing these kids is anticipated to stop about 600,000 new instances from November 2021 to March 2022. And rising immunity could scale back the possibilities that younger kids will transmit the virus to susceptible adults of their households and communities, well being officers famous.
Vaccinations of youthful kids are doubtless to assist maintain colleges open. Virus outbreaks pressured about 2,300 colleges to shut between early August and October, affecting greater than 1.2 million college students, in line with information offered on the committee assembly.
The pandemic has additionally stalled routine immunizations, widened schooling gaps and escalated charges of hysteria and melancholy amongst kids. “Vaccination of youngsters ages 5 to 11 years is not going to solely assist forestall Covid-19 an infection and severe penalties of an infection on this age group, however can even assist kids emotionally and socially,” stated Dr. Pamela Rockwell, who represents the American Academy of Household Physicians on the C.D.C. panel.
Nonetheless, about three in 10 dad and mom say they’ll definitely not get the vaccine for their 5- to 11-year-old child, according to the most recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only about three in 10 parents said they would immunize their child “right away,” a percentage that has barely budged since similar polls in July and September.
Many other parents are eager to see their children vaccinated as quickly as possible. Anticipating the C.D.C.’s decision, the Biden administration has enlisted more than 20,000 pediatricians, family doctors and pharmacies to administer the shots. About 15 million doses are already being shipped to vaccination sites across the country, federal officials said on Monday.
Children ages 5 to 11 will receive one-third of the dose authorized for those 12 and older, and the vaccine will be delivered with smaller needles and packaged in smaller vials to avoid a mix-up with adult doses.
About half of the parents in the Kaiser poll said they worried about mandates that would force them to inoculate their children. Schools in all 50 states already require certain vaccines, but those have full approvals from the F.D.A. Covid vaccines for children have only been given emergency authorizations thus far.
California this month became the first state to say it would require children who attend public and private schools in the state to be immunized as early as next fall — but only after the vaccine is fully approved by the F.D.A. Even in states with mandates, some students may be able to opt out by citing medical reasons or religious beliefs.
Before they met, advisers to the F.D.A. and the C.D.C. were bombarded by thousands of emails offering misinformation about the vaccine and asking the experts to vote against it.
One common objection holds that because children rarely get sick from the virus, the vaccine’s potential harms may outweigh its benefits. But the risk to children is not zero, C.D.C. scientists noted at the meeting.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 8,300 children ages 5 to 11 have been hospitalized with Covid, and at least 94 have died. About one-third of the hospitalized children were sick enough to be admitted to intensive care units.
Almost 10 percent of children with mild symptoms may have lingering problems months after the infection has resolved. And at least 2,300 children ages 5 to 11 have developed a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome following infection.
The C.D.C.’s advisers also evaluated data on the vaccine’s risks. There was enough information to conclude that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks, even without more long-term safety data, said Dr. Matthew Daley, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
“If we wait, we miss the chance to prevent many cases of Covid-19 in this age group, and that includes some very severe cases,” he said.
What to Know About Covid-19 Booster Shots
The F.D.A. has authorized booster shots for millions of recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna recipients who are eligible for a booster include people 65 and older, and younger adults at high risk of severe Covid-19 because of medical conditions or where they work. Eligible Pfizer and Moderna recipients can get a booster at least six months after their second dose. All Johnson & Johnson recipients will be eligible for a second shot at least two months after the first.
Yes. The F.D.A. has updated its authorizations to allow medical providers to boost people with a different vaccine than the one they initially received, a strategy known as “mix and match.” Whether you received Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer-BioNTech, you may receive a booster of any other vaccine. Regulators have not recommended any one vaccine over another as a booster. They have also remained silent on whether it is preferable to stick with the same vaccine when possible.
The C.D.C. has said the conditions that qualify a person for a booster shot include: hypertension and heart disease; diabetes or obesity; cancer or blood disorders; weakened immune system; chronic lung, kidney or liver disease; dementia and certain disabilities. Pregnant women and current and former smokers are also eligible.
The F.D.A. authorized boosters for workers whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure to potentially infectious people. The C.D.C. says that group includes: emergency medical workers; education workers; food and agriculture workers; manufacturing workers; corrections workers; U.S. Postal Service workers; public transit workers; grocery store workers.
Yes. The C.D.C. says the Covid vaccine may be administered without regard to the timing of other vaccines, and many pharmacy sites are allowing people to schedule a flu shot at the same time as a booster dose.
In a clinical trial of the vaccine in children, Pfizer initially tested the full adult dose and two smaller doses. The company settled on the smallest — one-third of the adult dose — because it had the fewest side effects and yet produced at least as many antibodies as observed in young adults who had been given the larger dose.
The vaccine had an efficacy of more than 90 percent in children ages 5 through 11, according to Dr. Alejandra Gurtman, a vice president at Pfizer, who presented the data at the meeting. Some children experienced fever, headache and fatigue, the same side effects seen in the older groups.
The F.D.A. had asked Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna to expand the size of their pediatric trials in order to detect less common side effects of the vaccines. Even so, the Pfizer-BioNTech trial was not large enough to detect rare adverse events.
Experts on the C.D.C. panel spent some time deliberating a rare side effect of vaccination called myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. The risk is highest in males ages 16 to 29, but even in that group, a majority recover quickly.
The risk appears to decline in children 12 to 15, and is expected to be even lower in younger children, experts said at the meeting. Covid itself is far more likely to cause myocarditis, and a more severe version of it, studies have shown.
The C.D.C. has not definitively linked any deaths from myocarditis to vaccination, said Dr. Matthew Oster, a C.D.C. scientist who presented myocarditis data at the meeting. “Getting Covid, I think, is much riskier to the heart than this vaccine, no matter what age or sex,” Dr. Oster said.
Given the millions of Americans who are still unvaccinated, immunizing younger children is unlikely to bring the country to the “herd immunity” threshold — the point at which virus transmission stalls. Still, vaccinating children may help to curtail virus spread by giving the virus fewer entryways into the community.
And it may help to protect people who don’t respond well to the vaccine, such as organ transplant recipients, cancer patients and others with impaired immune responses.
“Too many children have either lost a parent or become orphaned in this pandemic, which is incredibly tragic,” said Dr. Camille Kotton, who cares for immunocompromised people at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Results from the Pfizer vaccine’s trial in children under age 5 are not expected until the end of this year at the earliest. Last week, Moderna said its vaccine produced a potent immune response in children ages 6 through 11 who received half the adult dose.
Moderna requested authorization from the F.D.A. for use of its vaccine in children ages 12 to 17 years in June. The F.D.A. has not yet made a decision on that application, and is reviewing reports linking the vaccine to myocarditis, the company said on Sunday.