Leading CDC panel votes to add COVID-19 vaccines to recommended immunizations for all Americans — paving the way for states to potentially MANDELE the pre-school shots
- The recommendation helps doctors determine when to administer shots
- The move of the committee does not constitute a mandate for schoolchildren
- Opponents worry about pediatric vaccine mandate on the horizon
A leading panel of experts has recommended that the CDC add COVID-19 vaccines to the standard vaccination schedule for children six months and older.
Children six months and older, as well as all adults, should be fully vaccinated and given a boost with Covid injections when eligible, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said in a unanimous 15-0 vote on Thursday.
The vote of the committee has no immediate effect and is not binding.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are not required to follow the recommendation, although it is unlikely that they will.
The vaccines rescheduling schedule does not mandate that children should have them, but opponents argue it opens the door for them.
Kentucky Republican Rep Thomas Massie said that the commission’s decision ‘will precipitate’ [COVID-19] vax permits school attendance and sports in many states.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Margery Smelkinson, an infectious disease scientist at the National Institutes of Health, said, “Anyone who says this won’t lead to a mandate has not paid attention.”
While it is common for schools to require vaccinations before a child can participate, states choose whether to mandate certain injections.
For example, the flu and HPV vaccines are on the CDC’s schedule, but are not required in all public schools to attend.
The committee meets annually to review and update the vaccination schedule, which is intended to help clinicians determine when a child should receive different injections for preventable diseases such as polio and measles.
Children from six months of age are encouraged to be vaccinated. The CDC has since authorized booster shots for children as young as five.
Doctors question whether otherwise healthy children, who have a lower risk of serious illness than older adults, should be vaccinated.
ACIP members were aware of criticisms similar to Rep Massie’s in the discussion Thursday.
“We recognize that there are concerns about this, but moving Covid-19 to the recommended immunization schedule will not affect any vaccines required for school entry,” said Dr Nirav Shah, an ACIP member and director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Threat of mutated Covid strain looms
The new species in question, XBB, is another ommicron spin-off.
It has skyrocketed the number of cases in Singapore, where the number of cases has doubled in the past two weeks.
The strain is able to withstand some protection conferred by vaccines.
It has accumulated mutations in its receptor-binding domain, an important part of the spike protein where antibodies dock and block infections.
It is not known whether the strain is more virulent or likely to cause serious illness or death.
Children typically have a much lower risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 compared to older adults and have not been prioritized for vaccines until now.
The relatively low risk that Covid-19 poses to children has convinced some infectious disease experts that vaccines are not necessary to protect otherwise healthy children.
Vaccine makers have not yet presented extensive real-world evidence pointing to how well the pediatric injections are performing.
“This vaccine has (a) no convincing evidence that it will help the 86% of children who already had Covid and (b) no evidence that it will help children against any new strain by 2027,” saidDr. Vinay Prasad, a practicing hematologist-oncologist and health researcher at the University of California at San Francisco.
Another elected official, Texas Republican Rep Chip Roy, also called the vaccine ‘unnecessary’ for healthy children, ‘especially if there are REAL concerns about the risks of the injection.’
Roy argued that the risk of side effects such as myocarditis, a rare but serious condition that causes inflammation of the heart muscle that can cause chest pain and shortness of breath.
Most cases of myocarditis after vaccination were in young men and teenage boys were usually mild.
The committee’s unanimous vote on Thursday follows the CDC’s decision last week to allow bivalent booster shots for children as young as 5 years old.
Booster intake remains low in the youngest children, who are less vulnerable to serious infections than older Americans. The CDC recommends that children as young as age five receive a booster shot.
The CDC tracking shows that the demand for shots is low in all age groups.
The updated shots are specifically designed to target the Omicron variant and its offshoots.
But the uptake of the bivalent booster remains low in all age groups. Less than half of eligible Americans five and uphas yet to get a first booster shot.
Booster uptake increased last year for fear of a growing ommicrowave, but has since stabilized.