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FDA Panel Backs Moderna, Pfizer COVID Vaccines for Young Children

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Federal advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted unanimously today to recommend the use of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines in infants and young children.

​​The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) of the FDA voted 21-0 to say that benefits of a two-dose series of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine outweigh risk for use in infants and children 6 months through 5 years of age. 

The panel then voted 21-0 to say that benefits of a three-dose series of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine outweigh risk for use in infants and children 6 months through 4 years of age.

The FDA is not bound to follow the suggestions of its advisory committees, but it often does. Moderna and Pfizer are seeking to expand emergency use authorization (EUA) for their vaccines. EUAs are special clearances used to allow use of products in connection with public health crises such as the pandemic.

The Pfizer vaccine has standard, nonemergency FDA approval for use in people 16 years of age and older. The FDA also has granted EUA clearance for use of the shot in people ages 5 to 15.

The VRBPAC on Tuesday recommended granting EUA clearance for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 6 to 17. The Moderna vaccine already has full approval for use in people 18 years of age and older.

Kerry Dooley Young is a freelance journalist based in Miami Beach, Florida. She is the core topic leader on patient safety issues for the Association of Health Care Journalists. Young earlier covered health policy and the federal budget for Congressional Quarterly/CQ Roll Call and the pharmaceutical industry and the Food and Drug Administration for Bloomberg. Follow her on Twitter at @kdooleyyoung.

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