This is the last last age group not yet to have access to this protection.

American experts spoke out on Wednesday in favor of vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer for toddlers, a crucial first step towards their authorization, and the probable start of injections as early as next week.

“I know that many very relieved parents are certainly listening to us today,” commented Jay Portnoy, one of the members of this advisory committee.

After the long months of waiting necessary to conduct clinical trials, the two companies had filed an authorization request for children aged six months to 4 years for Pfizer, and six months to 5 years for Moderna.

Reduced doses

The dosage has been adapted: it represents a quarter of that of adults for Moderna (25 micrograms, against 100 for adults), and a tenth for Pfizer (3 micrograms, against 30).

Although the youngest are less vulnerable to Covid-19, some 480 children under the age of 4 have died from it in the United States.

Hospitalization rates also increased sharply for this age group during the wave linked to the Omicron variant.

In a vote, the 21 committee members unanimously felt that the benefits of vaccinating toddlers outweighed the risks.

On the basis of these opinions, the FDA, whose decisions refer to the world, will then be responsible for giving its official authorization.

Some 10 million doses will then be immediately sent to the four corners of the country, before millions more in the following weeks, the American government has indicated. Injections could begin as soon as next Tuesday, once the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control (CDC) will also have given the green light.

The CDC experts will meet them this Friday and Saturday.

Pfizer in three doses

The main difference between the two products is the number of shots needed: Moderna's vaccine will still be given in two doses a month apart.

That of Pfizer will be done immediately in three injections, two doses having not provoked a sufficient immune response due to the low dosage.

Pfizer's first two injections will be given three weeks apart, and the third administered eight weeks after the second.

Both vaccines are safe and effective, according to the FDA, which released its own analysis of clinical trials late last week to provide a basis for discussion for experts.

According to a preliminary estimate, the vaccine from the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance was found to be 80% effective against symptomatic forms of the disease.

But this figure is based on a very small number of positive cases, qualified the FDA.

Moderna's vaccine has been shown to be 51% effective in babies 6 months to less than 2 years old, and 37% in children 2 to 5 years old.

These figures are consistent with the efficacy observed in adults against the Omicron variant, according to the American agency.

However, the vaccine continues to protect them well against serious cases of Covid-19.

Impatience or skepticism

Regarding side effects, about a quarter of young children who received Moderna developed a fever, especially after the second dose.

It usually subsided after a day.

At Pifzer, the fever rate observed was comparable between the children who received the vaccine and those who received a placebo.

While some parents eagerly await the possibility of vaccinating their young offspring, others will undoubtedly be skeptical.

According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in early May, only one in five parents of a child under 5 (18%) wanted to vaccinate them as soon as possible.

Like adults, children infected with Covid-19 may suffer from long-term symptoms (Covid long).

In rare cases, they may also develop severe cases of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

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