April 6, 2022
US children under 5 years of age remain ineligible for COVID-19 vaccination as the Food and Drug Administration delayed steps toward authorizing the vaccines last month, CNN reports. While children remain less susceptible to hospitalization or death than adults, at least 400 children ages 4 and younger have died from COVID, according to the CDC. Experts and parents are increasingly anxious and hope the wait does not stretch on much longer.
Both Moderna and Pfizer BioNTech plan to submit data for review in the coming months. Pfizer initially tested a two-dose regimen, but the results prompted the company to begin testing a third. Children that have received a third dose must be observed for two months before data can be submitted, which the company says will be done in April. Investigators report they have not seen any safety issues and that should reassure parents once a vaccine becomes available.
One of the current challenges for researchers is that the vaccine candidates being tested were originally developed during the original strain and tested during the Delta variant wave. Testing for third doses is happening during the highly mutated Omicron wave. If authorized, some speculate kids would be on a different vaccine schedule than adults and adolescents. They may get the booster shot with a couple of months as opposed to the four or five month gap the older groups experienced.
There is still much to be learned about COVID-19, particularly with changes that arise through variants. That is why scientists working on the trials recommend parents continue taking precautions despite delays and frustrations. A decision on vaccines for children will be made on data and proceed quickly from there.
“[S]tudies must be done correctly, and if it takes a bit longer, that’s OK; let’s do it right,” said PIDS member Sharon Nachman, quoted in the story. “I think they need to be careful assessing what the immune response is. How long does it last? And really, what did that third dose mean?” Also appearing in the story were PIDS members Janet Englund, Yvonne Maldonado, and Jennifer Nayak who added “Really, what it comes down to is trying to get as much data as we can and be as careful as we can and make the best recommendations.”