Paediatricians Push Regulators on Vaccinating Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged US regulators to move “aggressively toward authorising safe and effective covid-19 vaccines for children under age 12.” The statement was published last week in the British Medical Journal.

Since the start of the pandemic, 14% of positive Covid cases have been children. However, with vaccinations having been available for adults but not children, 19% of cases were children in the last week of July. That amounted to over 70,000 children testing positive in the US.

The most common Covid symptoms among children are the same as for adults: fever, coughing, shortness of breath. However, they may also have red eyes, inflamed ears or fingers, or skin conditions.

There is a loophole enabling children under the age of 12 to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Because the Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval earlier this month – as opposed to the emergency use authorisation it had since December 2020 – it is now possible for US clinicians to give it to children as an “off-label use.”

Off-label prescription is common in paediatrics, because there isn’t the same quantity of data available for use of pharmaceuticals in children. Yet the Academy isn’t recommending practitioners go that far.

“The clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 11 years old and younger are underway, and we need to see the data from those studies before we give this vaccine to younger children,” said the Academy’s president. “The dose may be different for younger ages.”

A similar message was forthcoming from the Australian Medical Association president on Thursday. Dr Khorshid said there was no licensed vaccine approved for use by children under 12 years anywhere in the world.

“Whilst we would like to be able to vaccinate children … before exposing them to COVID, we simply do not have a safe and effective vaccine that is licensed anywhere,” said Dr Omar Khorsid. The AMA hopes data on the efficacy and safety of vaccination of young children would be available from the United States by September or October.

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Feature image with thanks to @anniespratt via Unsplash.

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