TAMPA, Fla. — The FDA’s vaccine advisory committee is meeting Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to more kids.
“We’re finally going to be able to get everybody in the population eligible to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished USF Health Professor.
Currently, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is only authorized for adults but Tuesday the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee will discuss including children ages 6-17.
Then on Wednesday, vaccine advisors will consider expanding Moderna’s authorization to younger children ages 6 months to 5 years.
Also on Wednesday’s agenda, the FDA will talk about amending Pfizer’s emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine to include use in children ages 6 months to 4 years.
Currently, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is approved for people 16 and older and is authorized for use in children as young as 5.
“I think they’re going to really go ahead and approve the vaccines for the younger children,” said Unnasch.
Documents show that a recent FDA briefing ahead of its independent vaccine advisory meetings found both vaccines for younger kids to be safe and effective.
“If every other form has been approved for every other age group and they got to this point I would be surprised if anything different happened here,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician at Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.
There are about 18 million children under 5 in the U.S. They are the only age group that isn’t eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine yet.
Experts say it’s taken so long to get to this point because scientists had to focus on creating a vaccine for higher-risk groups first, people who could have the worst complications from COVID-19.
“Those are typically the adults. Then you can see that they kind of phased into the next group. Then you got the teenagers and then you get the older children and now we finally are at the infants and the young children and phasing those in,” said Dr. Laura Arline, Chief Quality Officer for BayCare Health System.
Researchers also had to take the time to figure out the appropriate dosage for younger kids.
“There’s the complexity of figuring out the right, safe dose. So a lower dose but a safe dose but also an effective dose to prevent hospitalizations and deaths in younger kids,” said Arline.
Tuesday and Wednesday’s FDA meetings begin at 8:30 a.m.
The CDC has the final say before any shots can be given out. The CDC’s vaccine advisors are meeting Friday and Saturday.