COVID vaccines for kids under 5 could be available this month

Parents will likely soon know if they can get their children younger than 5 years old vaccinated against COVID-19.

Next week, the independent advisors for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are slated to consider recommending an expansion of the eligibility groups for both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines.

Pfizer’s shot is available to anyone 5 and older, and has applied to make its shot available to infants and children 6 months through 4 years old. Meanwhile, Moderna’s shot is available to adults 18 and older, but the company wants it to be available to anyone 6 months and older.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will discuss amending the EUA for Moderna’s vaccine for children 6 to 17 years old on Tuesday, June 14. Then the committee will consider both shots for the youngest populations on Wednesday, June 15.

Both meeting days are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. The meetings are public and virtual, with a live stream available through the FDA website, here.

As has been common procedure throughout the pandemic, the FDA has typically acted quickly on the recommendation from its advisory committee. Then the CDC’s advisors will review the data, and make a recommendation for the CDC director, who has the final sign-off.

Last week, the White House said vaccinations of children younger than 5 could begin as early as Tuesday, June 21. Dr. Ashish Jha, the country’s COVID response coordinator, said it’s expected that the vast majority of children who get vaccinated will do so through their primary care physician.

Jha said there is plenty of both Pfizer and Moderna’s shots available, and the federal government plans to make 10 million doses available to states, pharmacies and community health centers to order initially.

Pfizer said its three-dose regimen offered strong protection for children during its clinical trials, while Moderna said it had positive results after two doses. Both vaccines use mRNA technology and have been successful in offering protection against severe COVID-19 in teens and adults.

Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infections disease research for Beaumont Health, said its reasonable to get your children vaccinated against COVID, pending sign-off from federal regulators later this month. While children are less likely to get severely sick and die from COVID-19 compared to older populations, there is still some risk and vaccines have proven effective at preventing severe illness.

“These are some of the best vaccine people in the country,” Sims said about the FDA’s advisory committee. “I’ve watched their discussions and they’re very thorough and meaningful and everyone has different ways of looking at things. It’s a good, diverse group and I think they’ve gone a great job so far.”

Uptake could be slow, based on the current youngest eligible groups in Michigan. As of Wednesday, nearly 29% of Michigan’s 5 to 11-year-olds were vaccinated, compared to about 49% of 12 to 15-year-olds and almost 56% of 16 to 19-year-olds.

To date, more than 14 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been administered throughout Michigan.

If you have any COVID-19 questions that you’d like answered, please submit them to [email protected] to be considered for future MLive reporting.

Read more on MLive:

New COVID cases decline for third straight week in Michigan

COVID outbreaks infect 158 students and staff across Michigan schools

15 test positive for COVID at Mackinac Island conference, including Pete Buttigieg

Pfizer plans $120M expansion for COVID pill manufacturing at Michigan facility