ALL NEWS

Marathon US hearings to decide fate of COVID shots for tots

Jun 10, 2022, 3:34 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2022, 12:11 pm
This combination of 2022 and 2020 file  photos shows logos for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control...
This combination of 2022 and 2020 file photos shows logos for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, both Moderna and Pfizer will have to convince what’s essentially a science court -- advisers to the Food and Drug Administration -- that their shots work well in babies, toddlers and preschoolers. If the FDA’s advisers endorse one or both shots for them -- and the FDA agrees -- there’s still another hurdle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must recommend whether all tots need immunization or just those at high risk from the virus. (AP Photo/Ron Harris, Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
(AP Photo/Ron Harris, Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Parents anxious to finally vaccinate their youngest children against COVID-19, strap in, a lot is set to happen over the next week.

On Wednesday, both Moderna and Pfizer will have to convince what’s essentially a science court — advisers to the Food and Drug Administration — that their shots work well in babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Kids under 5 are the only group not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S. If the agency’s advisers endorse one or both shots for them — and the FDA agrees — there’s still another hurdle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must recommend whether all tots need immunization or just those at high risk from the virus.

Adding to the complexity, each company is offering different dose sizes and number of shots. And the week won’t even start with the littlest kid debate: Moderna first will ask FDA’s advisers to support its vaccine for older children.

Only a handful of countries, including China and Cuba, have offered different types of COVID-19 vaccinations to children younger than 5.

Here’s a primer to help keep all the developments straight.

Pfizer’s plan for the littlest

Pfizer has a pediatric track record — its COVID-19 vaccine is the only type the FDA allows for children of any age. Two doses plus a booster are cleared for everyone 5 and older. Shots for the 5- to 11-year-olds contain a third of the dose given to teens and adults.

For kids younger than 5, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech lowered the dose even more, to a tenth of the adult dose. The trade-off is a need for three shots, the first two given three weeks apart and the last at least two months later.

Moderna’s plan for the littlest

Moderna is seeking FDA clearance for two shots, each a quarter of its adult dose, given about four weeks apart for kids younger than 6. (Moderna tested a slightly different age limit than Pfizer.)

The FDA currently allows Moderna’s vaccine to be used only in adults. But some countries allow two full-size doses for teens and half-size shots for kids ages 6 to 11 — which Moderna also hopes to offer in the U.S.

Making their case

Pfizer disappointed parents back in December when a study found two shots weren’t quite strong enough. So researchers tested a third shot in youngsters age 6 months through 4 years during the winter surge of the omicron variant.

Pfizer’s preliminary data showed after three shots, children developed high levels of virus-fighting antibodies with no safety problems. In addition, the vaccine appeared 80% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. But that calculation was based on just 10 cases diagnosed among study participants by the end of April, and it could change if more cases have occurred since.

Moderna’s study found tots ages 6 months through 5 years developed high antibody levels after two of its shots. But while there were no severe cases of COVID-19 during the trial, the vaccine was only about 40% to 50% effective at preventing milder infections.

Moderna recently added a booster dose to the tot study — and disclosed in a presentation for Wednesday’s meeting that it also plans to allow participants a chance to help test an omicron-targeting booster.

When could shots start?

If the FDA authorizes one or both shots — a decision expected shortly after its advisory panel’s meeting — all eyes move to the CDC. That agency recommends how to use vaccines. Which tots should get COVID-19 vaccination will be an important debate as the coronavirus doesn’t tend to make children as sick as adults yet nearly 500 deaths in U.S. children under 5 have been reported.

The CDC’s own vaccine advisers are scheduled to meet next Friday and Saturday, and a final decision by the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, should come shortly after they’re done.

If all those steps fall into place, vaccinations could begin in many areas June 21.

Vaccination sites

Pediatricians, other primary care physicians and children’s hospitals are expected to vaccinate most of the youngest kids. Limited drugstores will offer them for at least some of the under-5 group — parents should check local availability for different ages. The Biden administration says it also is working with a variety of other groups, such as children’s museums, to offer pop-up clinics and reach even more youngsters.

What if my child recently had COVID-19?

About three-quarters of children of all ages are estimated to have been infected at some point during the pandemic. It’s a question sure to come up as CDC’s advisers make recommendations for the littlest kids, so stay tuned.

For older ages, the CDC has recommended vaccination anyway to lower the chances of reinfection. There’s no firm guidance on how long to wait; the CDC has said people may wait as long as three months.

Demand is unclear

There are roughly 18 million children younger than 5, and many parents are eager to get their tots vaccinated. But it’s unclear how many ultimately will, given disappointing vaccine uptake by older children.

According to the CDC, just 29% of kids ages 5 to 11 have gotten two doses, and about 60% of 12- to 17-year-olds.

What about Moderna and older kids?

On Tuesday, the FDA’s advisers will consider Moderna shots for older kids, those 6 to 17 — a decision that might alleviate some parent confusion.

The agency has held up the teen vaccine for months while it investigated a rare side effect, heart inflammation. That’s mostly a risk for teen boys and young men, and also can occur with the Pfizer vaccine.
___
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

At least 127 people are dead and hundreds more injured, police say, after chaos and violence erup...
Heather Chen, Raja Razek and Kareem El Damanhoury, CNN

Indonesia stadium riot: At least 127 people reported dead following soccer match, police say

At least 127 people are dead and hundreds more injured, police say, after chaos and violence erupted late on Saturday following an Indonesian league soccer match between two of the nation's biggest teams.
1 day ago
The National Archives has told the House Oversight Committee that certain presidential records from...
Whitney Wild and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

National Archives says it still doesn’t have all Trump White House records

The National Archives has told the House Oversight Committee that certain presidential records from the Trump administration remain outstanding, citing information that some White House staff used non-official electronic systems to conduct official business.
1 day ago
Sister Tracy Y. Browning, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, speaks during the Sat...
Waverly Golden

Saturday morning conference session makes history

During the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sister Tracy Y. Browning became the first Black woman to ever speak at a general conference.
1 day ago
u of u student arrested...
Waverly Golden

Other paths to consider when thinking about attending college

Following the student loan forgiveness announcement, college is on everyone's mind. Dave Noriega takes an in-depth look at the alternatives.
1 day ago
Around 1:02 p.m. this afternoon, a pickup truck with two occupants ended up in a ditch filled with ...
Waverly Golden

Pickup truck crash leaves two dead

The Utah Department of Public Safety says the occupants, a male driver and passenger sustained fatal injuries. 
1 day ago
Firefighter Fred Woods assesses damages at Tragedy Springs (Jonathan Pierce Calfire)...
Dan Bammes

The sad history of Tragedy Spring

The Mormon Battalion historic site, high in the Sierras is in sad shape after windstorms and wildfires.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Marathon US hearings to decide fate of COVID shots for tots