Right now marks a milestone in the path towards availability of youngsters’ COVID vaccines. The FDA’s advisory panel on vaccines, VRBPAC, voted that the advantages outweighed the dangers for Pfizer’s new kids-only vaccine for ages 5 to 11.
The vaccine will likely be a decrease dose than the usual model of Pfizer that is obtainable for adults and youths. It’s nonetheless a two-dose collection, with three weeks between doses.
Quickly the FDA ought to formally authorize the vaccine for teenagers, after which the ball passes to the CDC, whose advisory panel, ACIP, meets on Nov. 2 and three to make suggestions for who ought to get the vaccine. Which means the soonest you will get a shot in your child’s arm is more likely to be shortly after that—so, early November. (Now we have more information on the process and timeline here.)
Does a vaccine make sense for teenagers on this age group?
The members of the advisory panel appeared conflicted about whether or not the vaccine must be licensed for all youngsters or solely these at highest threat. Ultimately, they voted to authorize for everybody, however the CDC may resolve to make a narrower suggestion.
The most important threat they mentioned was the potential of coronary heart circumstances like myocarditis and pericarditis, which have often occurred after vaccination in teenage boys and younger males. This situation is uncommon, however severe. Those that are involved concerning the threat identified that COVID is just not normally severe in youngsters, so possibly the advantages solely outweigh the dangers in higher-risk youngsters.
However, myocarditis as a vaccine complication has not but killed anybody, whereas 94 youngsters have died of COVID because the pandemic started. We additionally don’t know if youthful youngsters taking the pediatric vaccine dose may have the identical threat for myocarditis as older youngsters who received the usual dose.
On the subject of advantages of the vaccine, a technique to have a look at it’s that COVID doesn’t normally hit youngsters onerous. One estimate offered on the advisory panel assembly is that 40% of youngsters on this age group could already be immune. Of those that have been hospitalized with COVID, about two-thirds had a earlier well being situation, so maybe there isn’t a lot to be gained from vaccinating wholesome youngsters.
On the opposite aspect of that concern are the 94 deaths. That’s a small quantity, but it surely’s much more than zero. COVID is at present the eighth main explanation for dying in youngsters on this age group. (Deaths in youngsters are, fortuitously, uncommon.) Stopping infections in youngsters may assist to guard extra susceptible relations, and it may additionally stop lengthy COVID and allow extra youngsters to get again to in-person faculty.
Personally, as a guardian, the advantages certain look like they outweigh the dangers for my wholesome youngsters. However I’ll be paying shut consideration to the CDC panel’s dialogue subsequent week, and it’s necessary to know what pediatricians assume, too. Keep tuned for extra.