The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Independent Advisory Board has given the go-ahead for Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 booster shots to be given to children ages 5-11, paving the way for parents to get their kids boosted as soon as possible. friday. Morning.
The panel voted 11-1-1 in favor of approval. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to give final approval to recommend the injections shortly.
“We have the tools we need to protect these people from serious illness and to prevent more tragic deaths,” Walensky said during brief remarks at the start of the meeting. “It is important for us to anticipate the evolution of this pandemic and to deploy the tools we have where they will have the greatest impact.”
Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the use of booster shots for young children to use at least five months after completing their first set of shots.
Children over the age of 5 became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination in November, so the first children lining up for their vaccine now have around six months of protection.
Pfizer asked the FDA in April to clear its booster shots for young children, after submitting data indicating their injection was safe and generated a strong immune response.
Vaccine efficacy after two doses against symptomatic infection “decreased rapidly for children and adolescents during omicron,” said Dr. Ruth Link-Gelles, who leads the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy program on Thursday. 19 for the CDC Epidemiology Working Group. A booster dose in adolescents significantly improved effectiveness – up to 71% – in the weeks and months after receiving the third dose.
Vaccine efficacy against hospitalization after doses for children aged 5-11 years hovered around 68%, with a median of 37 days after the second dose, while efficacy was around 51% in adolescents.
“Some decline” was evident when analyzing the decline in vaccine effectiveness for hospitalization in adolescents who had received two doses. However, Link-Gelles reported that there was insufficient data to assess the waning effectiveness in children aged 5 to 11 years or the impact of reminders versus hospitalization in children aged 12 to 12. 15 years old.
The benefits of the booster dose outweighed any known and potential risks and a booster dose may help provide continued protection against COVID-19, officials said, especially given concerns about declining immunity.
Many panelists argued that the pandemic is not over and continues to pose a risk to all Americans, including young children, and therefore vaccination and stimulation remain essential to protect all groups of people. ‘age.
“As a mother, an infectious disease specialist and a member of [the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices]my children are older than this age cohort, however, if they were still in this age cohort, I would give this reminder to my children,” said Dr. Camille Kotton, Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases from Massachusetts General Hospital.
Vaccination has provided “measurable and detectable” benefits in preventing “a wide range of health outcomes, and this includes infection, emergency room visits, hospitalization and serious illness” in adults, said Dr. Matthew Daley, a senior researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Health Research Institute, said, saying the same is likely true in young children.
“It just wouldn’t make sense for children 5-11 to be the only eligible age group where a third dose isn’t needed to achieve a more durable and effective immune response,” Daley said. .
Panelists added that future stimulus plans for children this fall are still unclear and therefore providing families with access to reminders is now an urgent and important decision.
Ultimately, the goal of vaccines is to prevent serious illness and death, asserted several panelists, who added that the benefits of vaccinating children, to protect them against severe forms of COVID-19, are clear.
“The goal is not to prevent all infections but to prevent serious illnesses and the data that was presented was good enough to convince that a third dose would reduce hospitalization, it would reduce MIS-C, it would decrease after COVID. All of these complications are serious that children have. And that’s why I really believe we should be moving in this direction,” added Dr. Katherine A. Poehling, Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Prevention.
Some panelists expressed concern about the need for boosters in children aged 5 to 11 at this time, given that a large proportion of children were recently infected with COVID-19 during the omicron surge. .
Dr Sarah S. Long, professor of pediatrics at Drexel University College of Medicine, said that with infection rates rising, “now is not the time” to stimulate young children.
“I think now is not the time to give 75% of the kids a boost – I think most of them have had recent infections,” Long explained.
Other experts stressed that doctors and officials should still focus on vaccinating more children with their initial primary series, especially given the recent increase in pediatric COVID infections and hospitalizations. -19 in the country.
To date, only 43% of eligible children, ages 5 to 17, have been fully vaccinated, according to federal data. An even smaller proportion – less than 30% – of children aged 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated and would therefore be eligible for a booster.
In January, the FDA cleared the use of a booster dose for teens ages 12 to 15, with 3.7 million teens having received a booster dose since then, according to the CDC.
Overall, 25.7 million children over the age of 5 – about half of those eligible – are still unvaccinated, including 18.2 million children aged 5 to 11.
“Boosters are great once they get everyone through their first round and I think that has to be a priority in that regard,” said Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot, associate professor of medicine, Division of Diseases Diseases and Health Policy, Vanderbilt University,
Last week, more than 93,000 additional cases of COVID-19 in children were reported, an increase of about 76% from two weeks ago, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the Children’s Hospital Association.
The average number of pediatric hospitalizations has increased by 70% over the past month, according to CDC data, and on average, nearly 180 children infected with the virus enter hospitals each day.