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CDC advisers have recommend COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5. Final approval is expected later today

June 18, 2022, 5:53 PM UTC

Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday unanimously recommended COVID vaccines for children under 5, the last group ineligible for the shots.

Final approval was expected later Saturday by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the Associated Press reported.

On Friday the U.S. Food and Drug administration approved emergency use of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children ages 6 months through 4 years of age.

Shots are expected to become available as early as this coming week, with millions of doses already ordered for delivery to local providers. Around 18 million kids are eligible, but it’s uncertain how many will receive the vaccine. Children ages 5 through 11 become eligible in November, but less than a third of them have been vaccinated.

Pfizer’s vaccine for the youngest children uses a tenth of the adult dose, and three shots are needed—the first given two weeks apart, and the last around two months later, according to the AP.

Moderna’s vaccine for the same age group involves two shots—of a quarter of the adult dose—given four weeks apart. A third dose, at least a month after the second shot, is available to children who are immunocompromised.

It’s difficult to say how effective the shots will be, especially against emerging Omicron subvariants and potential future variants. Moderna’s course for ages 6 months through 4 years appeared to be about 40% effective at preventing milder disease during Omicron’s surge, the AP reported.

Pfizer said it’s three-dose series proved 80% effective. But data is limited, federal health officials point out, and reliable estimates aren’t yet available.

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