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Moderna’s shots for children 6-17 win US CDC advisers’ backing

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Previously, only Pfizer’s vaccine was available for the age group.

PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – Moderna Inc’s Covid-19 vaccines for children and teens won support from a key panel of US health advisers, a crucial step towards providing yet another tool for protecting young people from the most serious effects of the virus.

A 15-member Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel supported the shots for children 6 to 11 years old and teens 12 to 17 years old in two unanimous votes.

CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky will need to sign off on the recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices to make the advice official.

Until last week, when US regulators cleared the use of Moderna’s Covid shot for children and adolescents, only Pfizer’s vaccine was available for the age group.

Covid-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers were also cleared, receiving a strong recommendation from CDC advisers over the weekend. Kids under 5 were the last age group to become eligible for inoculation.

US authorisation of Moderna’s shot children 6 to 17 years old had been delayed by concerns about heart complications that have been seen in a relatively small number of recipients, mostly young men.

Recent data suggest that the shot is effective in children and adolescents, with mostly mild to moderate side effects, according to a report by the US Food and Drug Administration.

While CDC endorsement will be welcome news to many parents and caregivers, only 29 per cent of American kids ages 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated, suggesting that some parents are hesitant or less motivated to inoculate their children.

It’s unclear whether Moderna’s shot will make a significant change in the number of children getting vaccinated.

In the meantime the CDC is trying to tackle this issue by making sure that information on the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines is available for parents.

For example, the agency will host clinician education calls and parent webinars as well as publish educational materials on social media, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer Sara Oliver said Saturday.

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