Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to eliminate Moderna’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccine for kindergarten children through high schools for public distribution this week after the agency’s independent vaccine expert panel voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend the injections.
The committee approved Moderna’s vaccine for children ages 6 to 17 after reviewing its safety and effectiveness at a public meeting. CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign the recommendation later Thursday, the last step before pharmacies and doctors’ offices can begin administering the shots.
On Saturday, the CDC approved Moderna’s vaccines for preschoolers, ages six months to 5 years. Vaccinations began this week for that age group.
Moderna’s shots for older children won’t have an immediate impact on the U.S. vaccination campaign, other than giving parents another option to choose from. Previously, only Pfizer’s vaccine was licensed for kindergarten through high school children, although adoption has been low. Two thirds of 5 to 11 year olds and 30% of 12 to 17 year olds have not yet been vaccinated against Covid.
According to the CDC, more than 600 children of those age groups have died of Covid during the pandemic and more than 45,000 have been hospitalized. Nearly 11 million children aged 5 to 17 caught Covid during the pandemic.
Children ages 6 to 11 receive the smaller 50 micrograms Moderna shots, while teens ages 12 to 17 would receive the same dosage as adults at 100 micrograms.
Moderna initially asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its vaccine for teenagers aged 12 to 17 more than a year ago, but the regulator resisted after other countries expressed concern that the shots from the company may be associated with a higher risk of heart inflammation or myocarditis, compared to Pfizer’s vaccine.
There are no head-to-head comparisons in the United States of heart inflammation in children receiving Pfizer or Moderna shots because Moderna’s vaccine was only licensed for adults up until this month. However, comparisons between Pfizer and Moderna injections in young adults appear to show that the rate of myocarditis is slightly higher in Moderna recipients, although the data are not consistent across US surveillance systems.
“Some evidence suggests that the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis may be higher after Moderna than after Pfizer. However, the results are not consistent across all US monitoring systems,” Dr Tom Shimabukuro, an official at the committee, told the committee. CDC Vaccine Safety Unit.
The data available in the United States on myocarditis among children ages 6 to 17 are based on reported side effects from Pfizer’s vaccine because Moderna shots were not yet licensed for this age group. The shots from Pfizer and Moderna use similar messenger RNA technology.
The CDC identified 635 cases of myocarditis among children aged 5 to 17 years after vaccination out of 54 million doses of Pfizer administered. The risk of myocarditis after Pfizer vaccination is highest after the second dose among boys aged 12 to 17 years. Myocarditis is slightly elevated among boys aged 5 to 11 years after the second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine, although it is much lower than in adolescents.
Boys between the ages of 16 and 17 reported 75 cases of myocarditis per 1 million seconds of doses of Pfizer administered while boys aged 12 to 15 reported about 46 cases of myocarditis, according to data from the CDC. . Boys between the ages of 5 and 11 reported 2.6 cases of myocarditis per million second doses of Pfizer administered.
People who have developed myocarditis after vaccination are usually hospitalized for a few days as a precaution before being sent home. The CDC found that the risk of myocarditis is greater from Covid infection than from vaccination. Myocarditis in children is typically caused by viral infections.
The most common side effects among children 6 to 17 years old during the Moderna clinical trials were pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain and nausea. There were no confirmed cases of myocarditis during the studies.
It is unclear how effective the hits will be against the omicron variant. Clinical trials were conducted during times when other Covid strains were dominant. Injections for adolescents aged 12 to 17 were approximately 90% effective in preventing disease from the original Covid strain and the alpha variant, while injections for children aged 6 to 11 were effective for more than 76% in preventing delta variant disease, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s review of clinical trial data.
However, Covid vaccines have a hard time fighting the omicron variant, which is now dominant, because it has so many mutations. Third hits significantly increased protection in other age groups. Moderna is studying boosters for kids targeting omicron with data expected by the end of the summer.