Kids Under Five Can Now Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine
On Saturday, June 18, 2022, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky endorsed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendation that all children six months through five years of age receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This decision expands eligibility for vaccination to 19.6 million additional children. The CDC recommends vaccinating all children, including those who contracted COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration decided a day earlier to authorize COVID-19 vaccines for children under five — the last age group in the United States to get clearance to receive the shots. The agency approved both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines for this age group.
The Moderna vaccine
Moderna tested its vaccine in more than 6,300 children. The vaccine is administered in two shots, 25 micrograms each (a quarter of its adult dose), is given about four weeks apart. The two-dose regimen was reported to be 51% effective in children six months to two years and 37% for those 2 to under six. However, it appears highly effective against severe disease and death and is similar to vaccine efficacy estimates in adults against Omicron after two doses of the company’s mRNA vaccine. Moderna’s Phase 2/3 KidCOVE study showed a robust neutralizing antibody response in the 6-month to under-five age group after a two-dose primary series of the mRNA vaccine and a favorable safety profile.
The side effects were minor, although about one in five children experienced fevers.
For the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) to include the use of the vaccine in individuals 6 months through 17 years of age.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
Pfizer’s efficacy rate is better, at 80.3%. The Phase 2/3 trial for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine enrolled 1,678 children between 6 months to 5 years. Three shots are needed: the first two given three weeks apart and the last at least two months later. Three 3-microgram doses (one-tenth of the adult dose) of the vaccine were well-tolerated in this age group. The common side effect of…