September 27, 2023
Medpage Today reports the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted nearly unanimously to recommend the updated COVID-19 vaccine shots for everyone aged six months and up. The vote was conducted during a mid-September meeting. The panel supports the 2023-2024 updated, monovalent, XBB-targeting mRNA shots by Pfizer and Moderna, as well as the Novavax protein subunit vaccine expected to be okayed by the CDC.
The dissenting vote pointed to a lack of children-specific data supporting the updated vaccine. Vaccine makers have existing data on children that show safety and efficacy for their vaccines in pediatric populations. Additional presentations shared evidence that vaccination reduces the risk of long COVID in both children and adults, and the rate of myocarditis and ischemic stroke with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has lessened over time.
Though some countries have recommended the updated shots for certain populations, ACIP took an inclusive approach to the shots and populations. PIDS member and panel chair Grace Lee noted the different approach by stating the risk-benefit balance was greatest for infants and those over 65 but concerns regarding existing inequities outweighed making a nuanced recommendation. A vaccine recommendation for everybody was thought to counter any complications created by tailoring.
ACIP recommended everyone five and up should receive one dose of a 2023-2024 mRNA vaccine, and children between the ages of six months-four years should complete an initial series with at least one of the respective doses being the updated 2023-2024 vaccine. For those who are immunocompromised, they recommended a three-dose initial series with at least one 2023-2024 vaccine dose, with one or more additional doses made available, according to their doctors.
Pfizer and Moderna have already made shots available to the public. The vaccines are expected to be available at no cost to patients with private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. The Vaccines for Children program will cover all kids who are uninsured. Some issues have emerged, however, regarding scarcity, payments, and paperwork. These issues are predicted to be resolved in short order.
PIDS members Grace Lee, Pablo Sanchez, and Nicola Klein appear in the article. Regarding his dissenting vote Dr. Sanchez said, “I would recommend it for the elderly, and for certain risk groups, including the immune-compromised, and during pregnancy. But I think we need to let the public know the data on children are not there. I want to be clear, I am not against this vaccine. The limited data that are available do look great.”