The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to clear Moderna‘s two-dose Covid-19 vaccine for kindergartners through high schoolers for public distribution this week after the agency’s panel of independent vaccine experts unanimously voted Thursday to recommend the shots.
The committee endorsed Moderna’s vaccine for kids ages 6 to 17 after examining its safety and effectiveness during a public meeting. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is expected to sign off on the recommendation later Thursday, the final step before pharmacies and doctor’s offices can start administering the shots.
The CDC endorsed Moderna’s vaccines for infants through preschoolers, ages 6 months to 5 years old, on Saturday. Vaccinations started this week for that age group.
Moderna’s shots for older kids won’t have an immediate impact on the U.S. vaccination campaign, other than providing parents with another option to choose from. Previously, only Pfizer’s vaccine was authorized for kindergartners through high schoolers, though uptake has been lackluster. Two-thirds of kids ages 5 to 11 and 30% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 haven’t been vaccinated against Covid yet.
More than 600 kids in those age groups have died from Covid during the pandemic and more than 45,000 have been hospitalized, according to the CDC. Nearly 11 million kids ages 5 to 17 have caught Covid during the pandemic.
Kids ages 6 to 11 receive smaller 50 microgram Moderna shots, while adolescents ages 12 to 17 would receive the same dosage as adults at 100 micrograms.
Moderna originally asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize its vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 17 more than a year ago, but the regulator held off after other countries raised concern the company’s shots might be associated with a higher…