FDA advisers endorse Moderna vaccines for children 6 to 17 years

The Food and Drug Administration’s committee of independent vaccine experts voted Tuesday to back Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 6 to 17.

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Update 5:07 p.m. EDT June 14: The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee endorsement clears only the second brand of COVID-19 vaccine for school-age children and teenagers, according to The Associated Press.

The agency’s outside experts ruled unanimously that Moderna’s vaccine is both safe and effective enough for children ages 6 to 17, meaning that full FDA approval would give parents a second option besides Pfizer’s vaccine.

The panel will reconvene Wednesday to consider both Moderna and Pfizer shots for children five and younger.

Original report: The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is set to meet Tuesday and Wednesday to decide whether it will recommend amending the emergency use authorization for Moderna’s and Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines to include younger children.

The committee will vote on whether to recommend the vaccine, the same one used for adults, at half the strength of the adult dose for those ages 6-11 and at the adult dose for those 12- to 17-years-old.

Should the committee recommend the vaccine, the agency will then decide whether to authorize it for emergency use. The Moderna vaccine is currently available to those over age 18.

After the committee makes its recommendations, a separate FDA committee that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to review the recommendation this weekend then notify Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director, of its decision.

Walensky will then decide if she will issue her own recommendation. Children could begin receiving the shots soon after Walensky’s approval.

On Wednesday, the FDA panel will consider expanding the authorization of the Moderna vaccine to infants and children ages 6 months to 5 years.

Around 18 million people in the U.S. are under age 5. It is the only age group in the United States not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.