Days after both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months, the governors of Oregon, Washington, California and Nevada publicly endorsed their use, citing a review by a scientific workgroup.
The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, which has been tasked throughout the pandemic with advising the four states on the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccines, this week unanimously concluded that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective for kids as young as 6 months, according to a press release.
The scientists provided its confirmation to the governors of Oregon, California, Washington and Nevada on Sunday afternoon.
The approval means the two-dose Moderna vaccine series and three-dose regimen from Pfizer are now available to parents of children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years — among the very last Oregonians to become eligible for the shots.
The Oregon Health Authority will inform health care providers that vaccinations for children as young as 6 months old can begin as soon as Monday, the governor said in a press release.
“This is a long-awaited moment for so many families,” Governor Kate Brown said Sunday. “With today’s review by leading doctors, pediatricians and health experts, Oregon parents and children can be confident in the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for children as young as 6 months old.
“It is completely normal for parents and kids to have questions about vaccines — I urge you to reach out to your family doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist and get your questions answered today.”
On Friday, June 17, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of the vaccines in children as young as 6 months old, and the CDC affirmed that decision on Saturday. The group reviewed the federal decisions on Saturday and affirmed them the following day.
The group said it thoroughly reviewed safety and efficacy data for the vaccines and found that “completion of either vaccine series produced antibody levels similar to those achieved in individuals age 16 to 25 years.”
Observed vaccine reactions among infants age 6 to 12 months and children age 1 through 5 years were consistent with reactions to other vaccines routinely recommended for these age groups, according to the group’s research.
The group concluded that the benefits of completing either vaccine series substantially outweigh any known or likely risks.
Immunization can be expected to reduce the numbers of Covid-related serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in young children while facilitating their participation in normal educational, social and recreational activities.
It remains to be seen how many parents of young children will take advantage of the expanded vaccination eligibility.
A recent Kaiser Health poll found that only one in five parents will get their young children vaccinated immediately, while fewer than 30% of children age 5 to 11 have been fully vaccinated since that age group became eligible in November.
According to reporting from The New York Times, some parents are wary because the vaccines are still new, others because they believe the risk from Covid-19 to be negligible for their children (data does strongly suggest young children are at low risk for serious complications).
Some parents may be uninterested because their children were among the 75% thought to have already been infected — mainly during the Omicron surge this past winter.
But CDC scientists have maintained that vaccination provides more powerful and consistent protection even if a child has already been infected.
Oregon, Washington, and Nevada joined California’s Covid-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup in October 2020.
The workgroup, made up of nationally recognized scientists with expertise in immunization and public health, has concurrently and independently reviewed the FDA’s actions related to Covid-19 vaccines and will continue to evaluate other vaccines as they go through the federal process.
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