CDC recommends Covid vaccine for young children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday officially approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children aged ...


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday officially approved the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children aged 5 to 11, a measure that will strengthen defenses against a possible outbreak as winter arrives and alleviate the concerns of tens of millions of parents tired by the pandemic. .

At a meeting earlier today, a panel of scientific advisers unanimously recommended that the vaccine be given to these children. Inoculations could start as early as this week.

“Together, with science in mind, we have taken another important step forward in our country’s fight against the virus that causes Covid-19,” CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky said in a statement Tuesday evening. .

While relatively few of the 29 million children in this age group will be fully immunized within a month, even a partial vaccination will offer some protection against the coronavirus. Every million doses given to children aged 5 to 11 would prevent an estimated 58,000 cases and 226 hospitalizations in this group, according to the CDC

Immunizing these children is expected to prevent an estimated 600,000 new cases from November 2021 to March 2022. And increasing immunity could reduce the chances of young children transmitting the virus to vulnerable adults in their families and communities, officials noted. health.

Immunizing young children is likely to help keep schools open. Outbreaks of the virus forced about 2,300 schools to close between early August and October, affecting more than 1.2 million students, according to data presented at the committee meeting..

The pandemic has also blocked routine immunizations, widened education gaps, and increased rates of anxiety and depression in children. “Vaccinating children aged 5 to 11 will not only help prevent infection with Covid-19 and the serious consequences of infection in this age group, but will also help children emotionally and socially.” said Dr. Pamela Rockwell, who represents the American Academy of Family Physicians on the CDC panel.

Yet about three in ten parents say they certainly not get vaccinated for their child aged 5 to 11, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Only about three in ten parents said they would vaccinate their child “right away,” a percentage that has barely budged since similar polls in July and September.

Many other parents are eager to have their children immunized as soon as possible. Anticipating the CDC’s decision, the Biden administration enlisted more than 20,000 pediatricians, family physicians and pharmacies to administer the injections. About 15 million doses have already been shipped to vaccination sites across the country, federal officials said on Monday.

Children aged 5 to 11 will receive one-third of the allowed dose for ages 12 and over, and the vaccine will come with smaller needles and packaged in smaller vials to avoid confusion with adult doses.

About half of parents in the Kaiser poll said they were concerned about mandates that would require them to immunize their children. Schools in all 50 states already require certain vaccines, but these have all FDA approvals. Covid vaccines for children have so far only received emergency clearances.

California this month became the first state to declare that it require children who attend public and private schools across the state to be vaccinated as early as next fall – but only after the vaccine is fully approved by the FDA Even in states with warrants, some students may opt out, citing reasons medical or religious beliefs.

Ahead of their meeting, FDA and CDC advisers were bombarded with thousands of emails offering misinformation about the vaccine and asking experts to vote against it.

A common objection is that, because children rarely get sick from the virus, the potential harm from the vaccine may outweigh its benefits. But the risk to children is not zero, CDC scientists noted at the meeting.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 8,300 children aged 5 to 11 have been hospitalized with Covid, and at least 94 have died. About a third of hospitalized children were sick enough to be admitted to intensive care units.

Almost 10 percent of children with mild symptoms may have persistent problems months after the infection resolves. And at least 2,300 children between the ages of 5 and 11 have developed a condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome as a result of infection.

CDC advisers also assessed the vaccine risk data. 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, principal investigator at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.

“If we wait, we are missing the opportunity to avoid many cases of Covid-19 in this age group, and that includes some very serious cases,” he said.

In a clinical trial of the vaccine in children, Pfizer initially tested the full adult dose and two smaller doses. The company opted for the smaller one – one-third the adult dose – because it had the fewest side effects and yet produced at least as many antibodies as those seen in young adults who received the highest dose.

The vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in children aged 5 to 11, according to Dr. Alejandra Gurtman, a vice president of Pfizer, who presented the data at the meeting. Some children had fever, headaches, and fatigue, the same side effects seen in older groups.

The FDA had asked Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna to expand the size of their pediatric trials to detect less common vaccine side effects. Even so, the Pfizer-BioNTech trial was not large enough to detect rare adverse events.

Experts on the CDC panel spent some time deliberating on a rare side effect of vaccination called myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. The risk is highest in men aged 16 to 29, but even in this group, the majority recover quickly.

The risk appears to decrease in children 12 to 15 years old and is expected to be even lower in young children, experts said at the meeting. Covid itself is much more likely to cause myocarditis, and a more severe version of it, studies have shown.

The CDC has not definitively linked myocarditis deaths to vaccination, said Dr. Matthew Oster, a CDC scientist who presented myocarditis data at the meeting. “With Covid, I think, is a lot riskier for the heart than this vaccine, regardless of age or gender,” Dr Oster said.

Given the millions of Americans who remain unvaccinated, immunizing young children is unlikely to bring the country to the “herd immunity” threshold – the point at which transmission of the virus stops. Yet immunizing children can help reduce the spread of the virus by giving the virus fewer entry points into the community.

And it can help protect people who don’t respond well to the vaccine, such as organ transplant recipients, cancer patients, and others. altered immune responses.

“Too many children have lost a parent or have been orphaned in this pandemic, which is incredibly tragic,” said Dr Camille Kotton, who cares for people with compromised immunity at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The results of the Pfizer vaccine trial in children under 5 are not expected until the end of this year at the earliest. Last week, Moderna said her vaccine produced a powerful immune response in children 6 to 11 years old who have received half the adult dose.

Moderna sought FDA clearance for the use of its vaccine in children ages 12 to 17 in June. The FDA has yet to make a decision on this request and is reviewing reports linking the vaccine to myocarditis, the company said on Sunday.

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Newsrust - US Top News: CDC recommends Covid vaccine for young children
CDC recommends Covid vaccine for young children
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