CDC Panel Backs FDA Approval of Boosters for Those Aged 12-15

By Robin Foster, HealthDay Reporter>

WEDNESDAY, January 5, 2022 — An advisory committee to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday endorsed the emergency use of Pfizer booster shots for 12-17 year olds.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the move on Monday.

In reaching its decision, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee noted a rise in COVID hospital admissions among young adults as the Omicron variant races across the country.

If the committee’s vote of 13-1 is approved by CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walinsky, as expected, teens between the ages of 12 and 15 can get boosters immediately. Adolescents 16 years of age or older were already eligible for booster shots, but the committee reinforced this recommendation.

The committee spent most of its time evaluating the risks and side effects of the vaccine, including a very rare inflammation of the heart mostly seen in young adults. But Dr. Camille Cotton, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who specializes in transplants and immunocompromised patients, emphasized that COVID-19 presents a much greater threat to the hearts of vulnerable and immunocompromised young people.

“This is an important thing to think about — the risk of developing myocarditis from the disease itself,” Cotton said, New York times mentioned.

Although Omicron is generally seen as causing less severe disease, she noted that as the number of cases rose, she was now seeing many patients on life support and some of them had died.

“It’s a horrible case,” Cotton said. “The highly contagious nature of Omicron is that patients who have been incredibly vigilant for the past two years have had horrific results.”

Another child health expert said parents of vulnerable children are desperate.

“There are children waiting in the emergency department 18 hours and longer to get to the hospital because we are so full,” said Dr. Catherine Boyling, director of children’s health at Wake Forest College of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We have parents asking us can their kids get a booster shot, like older kids.”

However, several committee members stressed that vaccination of children should be the priority, as only a small percentage of young children are ever vaccinated.

Lynn Bahta, a committee member who is a registered nurse with the Minnesota Department of Health, said, times mentioned. “When only half of our teens are vaccinated, that adds more of the burden as well. I am very concerned that the burden of preventing disease falls on the vaccinators and they get the booster.”

The committee vote came as variable Omicron raged in the US and kids were back in school after the holiday break.

On Tuesday, the CDC supported approval for the emergency use of a Pfizer booster dose for at-risk children ages 5 to 11, along with shortening the time between a second dose and a booster dose from six months to five months.

Both approvals also came from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

If the committee approves reinforcements for children aged 12 to 15, what is expected to be rapid support from Walensky will follow.

While children are believed to better tolerate COVID-19 infection, in rare cases they can become severely ill and die. In addition, the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID is now infecting record numbers of Americans, putting pressure on hospitals already caring for patients with the delta variant, The New York Times mentioned.

And children are no exception to the Omicron surge: hospitalizations of COVID-19 among young adults are increasing across the United States just as students return to school.

At least nine states have reported record numbers of hospitalizations for children related to the coronavirus: they include Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C. NBC News I mentioned Monday.

And in more disturbing news, the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday reported an astonishing rise in coronavirus cases in children.

The report stated that “Covid-19 cases among American children have reached the highest number of cases ever reported since the beginning of the epidemic.” “For the week ending December 30, more than 325,000 cases of COVID-19 in children were reported. This number represents a 64% increase from the 199,000 added cases reported in the week ending December 23 and nearly double the number of cases from the previous two weeks. .”

While the serious illness from COVID remains rare for younger children, the sheer number of new cases worries clinicians.

“It seems that people have tried to downplay the disease in children,” said Dr. Mark Klein, MD, a general practitioner at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. “We’ve spent two years debunking the myths about COVID and children, which say it’s ‘harmless’ for kids. It’s not.”

Klein is not the only pediatric infectious disease doctor who is concerned about the rise in hospitalizations of children due to the coronavirus.

“I’ve never seen an infection sweeping through an entire country in a week or two,” said Dr. David Kimberlin, co-director of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. NBC News. “The case rate in my part of Alabama is like a rocket ship. It reflects how much virus there is in the community. With that, we’re going to see an increase in hospitalization numbers.”

“Virtually every child” he and his team have operated on or seen over the past weekend has tested positive for coronavirus, said Dr. Shethan Satya, a pediatric surgeon at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York, part of Northwell Health. Even if their illnesses weren’t specific to the coronavirus, they exhausted resources nonetheless.

Pfizer enhancers are permitted for use by persons 16 years of age and older. The other two COVID vaccines, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are only allowed for adults 18 and older.

About 70% of Americans ages 12 and older are now fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, but about 1.8 million teens age 12 to 15 have already tested positive for the virus.

Resources

  • US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, press release, January 4, 2022
  • The New York Times

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