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Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 to include use in children down to 6 months of age.
CVS has announced it will provide vaccines for children 18 months and older – otherwise parents can access their pediatricians or health center/clinics. The vaccine is expected to be available in about a week.
“Many parents, caregivers and clinicians have been waiting for a vaccine for younger children and this action will help protect those down to 6 months of age. As we have seen with older age groups, we expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19, such as hospitalization and death,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “Those trusted with the care of children can have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of these COVID-19 vaccines and can be assured that the agency was thorough in its evaluation of the data.”
The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a primary series of two doses, one month apart, to individuals 6 months through 17 years of age. The vaccine is also authorized to provide a third primary series dose at least one month following the second dose for individuals in this age group who have been determined to have certain kinds of immunocompromise.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is administered as a primary series of three doses in which the initial two doses are administered three weeks apart followed by a third dose administered at least eight weeks after the second dose in individuals 6 months through 4 years of age.
Information about each vaccine is available in the fact sheets for healthcare providers administering vaccine and the fact sheets for recipients and caregivers.
“As with all vaccines for any population, when authorizing COVID-19 vaccines intended for pediatric age groups, the FDA ensures that our evaluation and analysis of the data is rigorous and thorough,” said Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “In addition to making certain the data for these vaccines met FDA’s rigorous standards, the agency’s convening of an advisory committee was part of a transparent process to help the public have a clear understanding of the safety and effectiveness data supporting the authorization of these two vaccines for pediatric populations.”
The effectiveness and safety data evaluated and analyzed by the FDA for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to support the EUA for these pediatric populations were generated in two ongoing, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trials in the United States and Canada which enrolled infants, children and adolescents.
The safety data to support the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine EUA in individuals 6 months through 17 years of age are as follows:
The most commonly reported side effects in the clinical trial participants for both the 6 through 11 age group and the 12 through 17 age group who received the vaccine include, pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, underarm swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting and fever.
The effectiveness and safety data evaluated and analyzed by the FDA for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine were generated in an ongoing, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial in the United States and internationally, which enrolled infants and children.
The FDA and CDC safety surveillance systems have previously identified increased risks of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of tissue surrounding the heart) following vaccination with the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, particularly following the second dose. The observed risk is highest in males 18 through 24 years of age for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and in males 12 through 17 years of age for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
The FDA and the CDC analyses of available safety surveillance data from the U.S. and other countries on myocarditis outcomes continue to strengthen the evidence that most cases of myocarditis associated with the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are characterized by rapid resolution of symptoms following conservative management, with no impact on quality of life reported by most patients who were contacted for follow-up at 90 days or more after reporting myocarditis. The risks of myocarditis and pericarditis are described in the fact sheets for each of these vaccines.
As part of their original EUA requests, both ModernaTX Inc. and Pfizer Inc. submitted plans to continue to monitor the safety of the vaccines as they are used under EUA. These plans for monitoring the overall safety of the vaccines and ensuring that any safety concerns are identified and evaluated in a timely manner, and which include monitoring for myocarditis and pericarditis, have been updated to include the newly authorized populations. In addition, longer-term safety follow-up is ongoing for participants enrolled in the clinical trials for both vaccines. Furthermore, the FDA and the CDC have several systems in place to continually monitor COVID-19 vaccine safety and allow for the timely detection and investigation of potential safety concerns.
It is mandatory for both ModernaTX Inc. and Pfizer Inc., as well as vaccination providers, to report the following to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) for these two COVID-19 vaccines: serious adverse events, cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome and cases of COVID-19 that result in hospitalization or death. It is also mandatory for vaccination providers to report all vaccine administration errors to VAERS for which they become aware and for vaccine manufacturers to include a summary and analysis of all identified vaccine administration errors in monthly safety reports submitted to the FDA.
The EUA amendment for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine was issued to ModernaTX Inc. and the EUA amendment for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was issued to Pfizer Inc.
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