CDC Advisers Poised for Major Vote on COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 19, 2022Vaccines
CDC Advisers Poised for Major Vote on COVID-19 Vaccines for Children
A pharmacist prepares to administer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots during an event hosted by the Chicago Department of Public Health at the Southwest Senior Center in Chicago, Illinois on Sept. 9, 2022. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are scheduled to vote on adding COVID-19 vaccines to a program for children.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an advisory panel to the centers (CDC), will vote on Oct. 19 on adding COVID-19 vaccines to the Vaccines For Children program, according to a draft agenda (pdf) for the meeting.

The taxpayer-funded program provides vaccines for free to children who “might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay,” according to the CDC.

Advisers are also poised to vote on Thursday on the 2023 vaccination schedules for children and adolescents.

The agenda does not make clear whether advisers will consider adding COVID-19 vaccines to the immunization schedules, but experts say that vaccines that are recommended for the Vaccines For Children program must be part of the schedules.

The timing of the votes “is persuasive for the ACIP adding the COVID vaccine to the recommended schedule this week, whether officially licensed by FDA for young children or not, because vaccines covered by VFC have to be on the CDC recommended schedule,” Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, told The Epoch Times via email.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization to several COVID-19 vaccines for children. It has approved, or licensed, Pfizer’s vaccine for people 12 and older.

The vaccination schedules are utilized by pediatricians and other doctors across the country. Many states require children and adolescents to receive the vaccines on the schedule to attend school.

CDC spokespersons and Stephanie Thomas, an ACIP management specialist for the agency, did not respond to requests for comment.

The vaccination schedules are recommended by ACIP but need approval by three entities: the CDC, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). All three have been relentlessly promoting COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, even after the effectiveness proved to be worse against newer virus variants and the number of side effects has grown.

An AAFP spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email that the group supports all eligible people getting a COVID-19 vaccine, including the new booster, saying, “Vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.”

“If ACIP recommends the COVID-19 vaccine be added to the childhood vaccination schedule, the AAFP will follow its process of reviewing the recommendation through the AAFP Commission on Health of the Public and Science before issuing clinical guidance to family physicians,” the spokesperson added.

The AAP did not return a query.

Another group, the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, said it opposes adding the shots to the immunization schedules.

“This is a dangerous idea that will only benefit the vaccine manufacturers at the expense of the best interests of kids,” the association said in a statement. “Not only do the shots have essentially no meaningfully positive impact on children’s health, the fact that the risk of severe adverse events are greater than any potential small benefit is becoming increasingly evident.”

The public can submit comments on the vote here.

Parents have been increasingly reluctant to get their children vaccinated as the pandemic has worn on, CDC data show. Just 9 million children between 5 and 11, and approximately 600,000 younger children, have completed a primary series as of Oct. 12. There are about 47.5 million children 11 or younger in the United States.

Some have said that federal law prevents adding vaccines that have not been approved to the vaccination schedules, but Fisher, with the vaccine information center, said she was not aware of any such language in a law.

Still, if the vaccines did make it onto the schedules, it would be unprecedented, Fisher said.

“I think it will really come down to whether the majority of ACIP members are comfortable with voting to add a vaccine to the child schedule that is not yet licensed by FDA for young children,” she said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with a comment from the AAFP.

From The Epoch Times

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