On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed off on the Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines for children under 5. The agency’s advisory panel was unanimous in its recommendation. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky issued a statement following the decision, “We know millions of parents and caregivers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can.”
CDC official Sara Oliver told the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that while the vaccines employ different dosages, a different number of shots, and different intervals between shots, the agency is not favoring one over the other. She further stated the coronavirus vaccines could be given at the same time as other vaccines, including on the same day or any time before or after another vaccine. Either vaccine is better than no vaccine, Oliver said.
With the summer travel season upon us, the parents and caregivers of the 19 million children across the United States assert the decision provides them with the relief they’ve been waiting for. Earlier last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found both vaccines safe and effective. Doses began shipping Friday in anticipation of the CDC’s approval to prevent delays in getting them to families who want them.
Research from earlier this year shows that about three out of four children carry antibodies showing that they have already been infected with Covid-19 at least once. Despite these statistics, the CDC stresses that all children, even those who have had the virus, should be vaccinated to protect against reinfection and to protect their family members and communities.
The news of vaccines for the youngest children comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that after five weeks of Covid-19 deaths decreasing, the number increased by 4% this past week. Even with this increase in fatalities, the number of cases continued to fall, with about 3.2 million new cases reported last week. However, the organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “Because many countries have reduced surveillance and testing, we know this number is under-reported.”