ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Now that a food and drug administration panel has voted to recommend the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccine for infants as young as six months old, parents could begin getting their children four and under their first dose by the end of next week.
The final barrier to clear is approval from the CDC, but this is welcoming news for many parents. That’s due to the fact that children four and under are the only age group thus far without access to long-term protection from the virus.
So far, COVID has killed over 440 children ages four and under, according to the CDC. While the threat level for them is lower than for adults, pediatricians urge parents to not take any chances.
“There’s really not stratified risk factors that one child is more or less likely to go on with complications from Covid compared to another,” said Rochester Regional Health Pediatric Medical Director Dr. Steven Schulz. “So, the best way to protect against any of those outcomes whether illness, hospitalizations, or death is to get vaccinated.”
The Pfizer doses for children four and under are one-tenth of the size adults receive. And require two shots three weeks apart, then a third one eight weeks later. Moderna’s is a quarter of the size they give adult patients and split into two doses. But they differ in effectiveness.
“Preliminary data coming from Moderna their vaccine is about 40% effective protecting against COVID for the youngest children,” Dr. Schulz said. “Compared to Pfizer who’s been shown to be 80% effective according to Pfizer’s data.”
Coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths in young children grew at faster rates during the omicron wave than earlier in the pandemic. To avoid this wave repeating, pediatrics like Dr. Schulz explained Pfizer and Moderna tested their vaccines on more than 8,000 kids from different backgrounds to show it’s safe and works.
“All the safeguards are in place and the data has been analyzed by the most brilliant minds out there,” Dr. Schulz said. “In infectious disease and pediatric infectious disease. It’s not very different from the routine vaccines every day.”
It’s unclear how much demand will be noticed if and when these versions of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are approved. Those 5-11 still make up the age group with the lowest fully vaccinated rate with just 37.2% having two doses.
The CDC is expected to analyze and make their votes for recommendations within the next week. Shipments could then be sent out immediately.