The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorisation on Friday for the use of Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines in the youngest children, the final age group awaiting immunisation in most countries.
The agency authorised Moderna’s two-dose vaccine for children aged six months to five years, and three doses of Pfizer’s shots for those between six months and four years old.
“Many parents, caregivers and clinicians have been waiting for a vaccine for younger children and this action will help protect those down to six months of age,” Food and Drug Administration chief Robert Califf said in a statement.
“We expect that the vaccines for younger children will provide protection from the most severe outcomes of Covid-19, such as hospitalization and death.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must now also recommend the vaccines before they are put into use — a final green light that will be given after a meeting of an advisory committee of experts that is expected to be held shortly.
But the US government has said that as soon as the FDA decision is made, 10 million doses could immediately be sent around the country, followed by millions more in subsequent weeks.
Both vaccines are based on messenger RNA, which delivers genetic code for the coronavirus spike protein to human cells that then grow it on their surface, training the immune system to be ready. The technology is now considered the leading Covid vaccination platform.
The vaccines were tested in trials of thousands of children. They were found to cause similar levels of mild side effects as in older age groups and triggered similar levels of antibodies.
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