Babies next in line for Covid vaccinations
New trials are under way which could pave the way for children as young as six-months-old to be inoculated with the effective Moderna vaccine.
Babies as young as six-months-old could be vaccinated against Covid-19 next year if trials of the vaccine Moderna demonstrate it is safe and effective for infants and toddlers.
Parents have been rushing to secure Moderna appointments for teenagers at pharmacies this month after the jab was finally made available in Australia.
It’s only available at chemists and can be booked by going online at findapharmacy.com.au or by contacting participating pharmacies including Terry White.
But the manufacturers are trialling its use in children under the age of 5 and are also considering manufacturing the vaccine here in Australia.
Moderna’s chief medical officer Dr Paul Burton has told News Corp that children as young as two could be vaccinated providing peace of mind for children who attend childcare.
“At the moment, it’s been approved for use in adults and children aged over 12 and we’re certainly going down into, you know, infants, two-years-old,” he said.
“I would think we’ll get those results, you know, shortly before the end of the year, maybe in the November time frame.”
However, the US trials are vaccinating children even younger than two, offering jabs to children as young as six-months-old.
Moderna Inc plans to enrol around 13,275 participants in their vaccine trial for children – with the participants aged between six months to 12 years.
One of the scientists participating in that study in the US, Katherine Luzuriaga, MD, the UMass Memorial Health Chair in Biomedical Research, said she was confident that thousands of parents would offer consent for their children to participate.
“Getting kids back into schools full time …and protected as much as possible from getting infected, is really important,” Dr Luzuriaga said.
“We focus on the medical issues, certainly the risk of disease itself and long-term effects of COVID. However, what’s become apparent is that children have really suffered socially, emotionally and academically from not being able to go to school.”
“Until vaccines are authorised for use in elementary school-age children and more teenagers get vaccinated, we want to encourage parents and families to do everything possible to protect their children as they go back to school.”
In April, Moderna filed a quarterly report in the United States to the federal financial regulatory agency confirming it would test the safety and efficacy of its Covid-19 vaccine in 6000 healthy children aged between six months and 12 years.
In August, the company confirmed it was considering using Australia as a test site for kids as young as six months, but that would require approval from health authorities.
The Moderna vaccine has sparked headlines overseas as being even more effective than Pfizer at stopping “breakthrough infections” which is when double vaccinated people are infected with the virus.
Recent studies found that while SARS-CoV-2 positive test results are rare among the vaccinated compared to the unvaccinated group (38 infections in those who received Moderna’s, 72 for Pfizer/BioNTech’s, and 321 among the unvaccinated), the Moderna cohort performed better than Pfizer.
According to one recent study, the estimated effectiveness of Moderna at preventing infections was 86 per cent versus 76 per cent in Pfizer/BioNTech.
A growing number of teenagers have been infected since the Delta variant arrived in Australia, particularly at high school clusters in Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
Since the pandemic began an estimated 24,000 children and teenagers have contracted Covid-19 in Australia.
More than four million American children and adolescents have tested positive for the virus since the onset of the pandemic, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported last week. Of those, at least 346 have died,
But they rarely end up in ICU and die with only one recorded death of a teenager from the virus in Australia since it first emerged last year.
But concerns remain that the size and scope of paediatric studies need to be large enough to detect rare side effects including myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining around the heart.
For teenagers older than 12, expert opinion suggests the benefits greatly outweigh the risks, including heart problems.
In the US, the F.D.A. authorised the Pfizer vaccine on an emergency basis for children ages 12 to 15 in April.
In July Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 12-15. It recently also approved the use of Moderna for teenagers.
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