A CDC study suggests that 42 percent of children ages 5 to 11 have antibodies to the coronavirus as a result of a previous infection, prompting some FDA advisers to question whether one dose would be enough for children. The use of that study has been questioned by some scientists. FDA panelists also asked whether only those with high-risk medical conditions such as obesity should receive the vaccine, 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 narrow down eligibility, and the FDA’s advisory panel approved offering the pediatric dose to the entire age group by a vote of 17-0, with one abstention.
dr. Marks, the FDA regulator, said Friday that the data on vaccinating children under the age of 5, which Pfizer and Moderna are currently studying, were “still a few months off.”
“The benefits and risks become even more careful as the youngest children are least directly affected in terms of severe Covid-19,” he said.
dr. Snowden said the Delta variant wiped out any idea that children are impervious to the virus. At the height of the most recent wave, she said, Arkansas Children’s Hospital was treating as many as 30 children a day for Covid, including some with fully vaccinated parents. While that number has dwindled, “it’s still not back to where we were before Delta,” she said.
Much of the burden of the pediatric injection rollout is expected to fall on pediatricians and general practitioners, many of whom are pressured by staff shortages and pent-up demand for care at this point in the pandemic, but have deep relationships with parents and children. dr. Sterling Ransone, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a physician in rural Deltaville, Virginia, said he would keep his office open later on weekdays and Saturdays to meet the demand for pediatric injections.
“We know who to prioritize: asthmatics, people with heart disease, people who are obese,” he said.
dr. Victor Peralta, a pediatrician in the racially diverse neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, said the initial uptake of his patients might be a little slower, most of whom are poor enough to have Medicaid coverage. But he predicted that the pediatric dose would catch on and eventually slow the transmission of the virus. “I have no doubt that this will make a difference beyond just the concerned pit,” he said.