A CDC study shows that 42 percent of children ages 5 to 11 have antibodies to the coronavirus due to a previous infection, prompting some FDA advisers to ask if a single dose would be sufficient for children. Use of this study was questioned some scientists. FDA researchers also asked whether the vaccine should only be given to those at high risk for health problems such as obesity, as it is clear that they are most vulnerable to becoming very ill with Covid-19.
But CDC officials said it would be difficult to limit eligibility, and the FDA advisory commission backed the offer of a pediatric dose to the entire age group with 17 votes against and one abstention.
Dr. Marks, the FDA regulator, said on Friday that the data on vaccinating children under the age of 5, which Pfizer and Moderna are currently studying, is “a few more months off.”
“The risks to the benefits and risks need to be considered even more carefully, as the youngest children are the least directly affected in terms of severe Covid-19,” he said.
Dr. Snowden said the Delta version erased any notion that children are impervious to the virus. At the height of the latest rise, she said, a children’s hospital in Arkansas treated as many as 30 children a day for Covid, including some with fully vaccinated parents. Although that number has dropped, “it’s still not back to where we were before Delta,” she said.
Much of the burden of introducing vaccines for children is expected to fall on paediatricians and family physicians, many of whom are burdened by staff shortages and restrained demand for care at this point of the pandemic, but have close relationships with parents and children. Dr. Sterling Ransone, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a rural physician at Deltaville, Va., Said he will keep his office open later on weekdays and Saturdays to meet the demand for pediatric imaging.
“We know who to give preference to – asthmatics, those with heart disease, people who are obese,” he said.
Dr. Victor Peralta, a pediatrician in the racially diverse Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, said admission might be a little slower at first for his patients, most of whom are poor enough to receive Medicaid. However, he predicted that the pediatric dose would be taken and eventually help slow the transmission of the virus. “I have no doubt this will make a difference from just worrying well,” he said.