Getty A child receiving a vaccine
An advisory panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is meeting Friday and Saturday to debate whether to endorse the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as six months old.
If experts with the national public health agency support the vaccines, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign off and shots could be available for the age group as early as Tuesday. There are roughly 18 million children in that age group, according to the Associated Press.
The CDC's panel follows the Food and Drug Administration's panel of advisors unanimously voting to authorize use of the vaccines on Wednesday.
In the 21-0 vote, members of the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee all voted "yes" to the question, "Based on the totality of scientific evidence available, do the benefits of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine when administered as a 2-dose series (25 micrograms each dose) outweigh its risks for use in infants and children 6 months through 5 years of age?," CNN reported.
Voters did the same, according to the outlet, in regard to the question of, "Based on the totality of scientific evidence available, do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine when administered as a 3-dose series (3 micrograms each dose) outweigh its risks for use in infants and children 6 months through 4 years of age?"
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Pfizer and BioNTech announced in December that a two-dose regimen did not elicit enough of an immune response in some children under 5, prompting their study of a third dose.
At the time, the companies reported that the two-dose vaccine was effective in children under age 2, similar to those in the 16-24 age bracket. However, children ages 2 through 5 generally did not have the same response.
In April, multiple sources told Politico that it could be June before the FDA authorizes a COVID vaccine for children under five years old. The outlet added that delays are being attributed to regulators who want to promote two vaccines at the same time instead of pushing one out before the other.
Vaccine advocates encouraged the administration to act sooner rather than later.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children ages 12 to 15 back in May 2021. The vaccine received the same approval for children ages 5 to 11 six months later in November.