Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are safe and effective for children 6 months old and up, clearing the way for its use in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup announced Sunday afternoon.
Now that the Workgroup has confirmed its approval to the governors of those Western states, young children in those states may start receiving the Moderna two-dose vaccine series and the Pfizer three-dose vaccine series.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the green light on the use of the vaccines for children 6 months and up on June 17, followed by the CDC's affirmation on June 18.
After thorough review of safety and efficacy data, the Workgroup concluded that the benefits of vaccinating young children with either vaccine brands substantially outweigh any known or likely risks. Fully vaccinated children in the study had antibody levels similar to fully vaccinated 16 to 25-year-olds, according to a press release from the officer of Gov. Newsom.
Vaccine reactions for infants ages 6 to 12 months and for children ages 1 to 5 were also consistent with reactions to vaccines that doctors regularly recommend for those in their age groups.
Public health officials expect COVID-19 immunization to reduce serious illnesses resulting from the virus, hospitalizations, and deaths for young children while allowing them to engage in a normal education, socialize with others, and recreate.
“Vaccines are safe, effective, and widely accessible – we’re strongly encouraging parents to protect their kids from COVID-19 with these vaccines, and California has pre-ordered nearly 400,000 doses that can be administered at the more than 8,500 vaccine sites throughout the state,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom.
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California's Workgroup is a joint effort of nationally-acclaimed scientists specializing in immunization and public health. Washington, Oregon, and Nevada joined California's Workgroup in October 2020. The group is also planning to assess other COVID-19 vaccines, the press release stated.
“Many families have been waiting for the opportunity to vaccinate their youngest members and I am happy that day has come. Families can have the peace of mind of the thorough review process these vaccines have gone through, but I encourage families to speak to a trusted health care provider about any questions they have," Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak stated.
"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," stated Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. She further urged Oregonians to reach out to their doctors to get any questions answered.
"These vaccines remain the most important tool in our continued efforts to keep people safe from severe COVID illness or hospitalization," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said, also encouraging families to contact their trusted providers with questions on the vaccines.