Young kids could soon get COVID-19 shots; FDA advisers approve 2 vaccines

SEATTLE — On Wednesday, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended emergency use authorizations for two COVID-19 vaccines for preschoolers, toddlers and babies.

The vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, could be made available to kids as young as 6 months old and as early as next week.

While vaccines for young kids were tested around the country, they were also tested at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

KIRO 7′s Graham Johnson spoke with Dr. Janet Englund, who ran local trials for Pfizer’s vaccine at Seattle Children’s.

“We followed them for up to six months to see how they did in terms of side effects and how they did in terms of getting or not getting COVID,” says Englund.

Englund says there is plenty of information showing the Pfizer vaccine is safe but there is less data about its effectiveness.

“The Pfizer vaccine, while limited data, has good data showing the vaccine looks to be pretty effective at three doses,” Englund says.

One thing worth noting is that variants pose a challenge with all vaccines, including those for younger kids.

While there is that challenge, Kaiser Permanente pediatric hospitalist Dr. Susanna Block says “[Vaccination] it prevents people from getting very, very sick. It prevents people from being hospitalized, and it prevents death.”

Block says she’s excited to start offering the vaccines to the youngest kids.

“I really want people to understand that corners have not been cut with this vaccine; that it’s safe, its’s effective, and the side effect profile is minimal,” Block says.

Once the FDA gives its formal authorization for Moderna’s vaccine for kids younger than 6 years old and Pfizer’s for kids young than 5 years old, the vaccines need to be recommended by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel, which meets Friday and Saturday.

After that, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, comprising vaccine experts from Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada, must recommend the vaccines for use in Washington state.