There’s now a choice of COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens under 18 years old.
Moderna shots for 6- to 17-year-olds received final federal approval last Friday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recently authorized both Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 shots for younger children, including infants starting at six months old.
Previously, only the Pfizer vaccine had been approved for children 5 and older, adolescents and teens.
“It is critical that we protect our children and teens from the complications of severe COVID-19 disease,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said in a statement, adding that the decision “expanded the options available to families by recommending a second safe and effective vaccine for children ages 6 through 17 years.”
Walensky said vaccinating that age group against the virus “can provide greater confidence to families that their children and adolescents participating in childcare, school, and other activities will have less risk for serious COVID-19 illness.”
Emergency use authorization for the Moderna shots was granted by the FDA on June 17 for children and teens, at the same time the long-awaited Pfizer and Moderna shots for infants and younger children were given the go-ahead. The CDC had signed off on the Moderna shots for the youngest age group within days.
The FDA said the immune response produced by the Moderna vaccine in 6- to 17-year-olds was comparable to that of those 18 to 25. Among 12- to 17-year-olds, the vaccine was more than 93% effective in preventing COVID-19 according to an analysis using data from before last winter’s surge of the highly transmissible omicron variant.
The FDA said the most commonly reported side effects in the clinical trial participants included “pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, underarm swollen lymph nodes in the same arm as the injection, nausea and vomiting and fever.”
In Utah, less than 30% of children 5 to 11 have received the initial two COVID-19 shots, and just over 1% have gotten a booster dose, according to the Utah Department of Health’s coronavirus.utah.gov website, The numbers are higher for 12- to 18-year-olds, with more than 62% fully vaccinated and just under 16% boosted.
As of Friday, the Moderna vaccine doses already on hand can be given to anyone 12 and older, state health department spokeswoman Charla Haley said, while some 2,300 scaled-down doses for ages 6-11 requested by two local health departments have been ordered and are expected to arrive by mid-week.
Even before the Pfizer and Moderna shots for the youngest children was approved earlier this month, the state had ordered more than 32,000 of the specially sized doses to distribute to local health departments, private providers and some pharmacies.