The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) convened a panel of advisers on Wednesday who voted unanimously in favor of authorizing the use of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on children as young as six months old.
The 21-person Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, or VRBPAC, met virtually and listened to presentations from drug companies and FDA scientists, who reanalyzed data from the companies.
During the virtual meeting, the panelists discussed concerns about potential side effects and vaccine efficacy before unanimously agreeing that vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna should be made available.
However, the vote is not binding, though FDA is likely to endorse the VRBPAC’s recommendation.
“I think what we’ve heard from a lot of the committee members … is the emphasis on a choice,” Ofer Levy said, director of the precision vaccines program at Boston Children’s Hospital and a member of the advisory panel.
“A choice for families. They can partner with their pediatricians, [and] make the decision,” Levy said.
An advisory committee for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must also recommend the vaccines should CDC Director Rochelle Walensky accept the recommendation before families can start availing of the vaccines.
The CDC vaccine advisers will convene on Friday and vote Saturday.
Meantime, the White House has said shots could begin as early as next week.
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