Dr Muller and Dr Offit provide take-home messages about COVID-19 vaccines for pediatric patients.
William J. Muller, MD, PhD: Are there any other topics we didn’t talk about that were of great interest to the VRBPAC [Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee] panel?
Paul A. Offit, MD: Those were the big ones they came up with: efficacy and safety issues. Remember, we’re just an advisory committee, so we give advice. The FDA [Food and Drug Administration] will take that advice and say, “Yes, we will allow these vaccines to be distributed for those age groups.” Then, it goes to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who are meeting on 17 and 18. They will vote, then Dr Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], will presumably take their advice, and the vaccine would likely be available early next week. I don’t know whether you got a chance to watch that meeting yesterday, but at the end, people got a little emotional. We had been meeting intensively for the past year and a half. We first approved the vaccines for Pfizer and Moderna in December 2020, then 6 months later for children aged 12 to 15 years, another 6 months later for children aged 5 to 11 years, and this finishes the circle. Now you can be vaccinated from 6 months of age. For a lot of us, we started to reminisce about that first approval. It’s been a long, hard road.
William J. Muller, MD, PhD: I found it interesting that one of the points raised at the end was that the initial vote wasn’t unanimous, and this most recent one was. I think that shows how far we’ve come in the development and understanding of not just how these vaccines work but how safe they are. That’s the biggest take-home message from this discussion, at least for providers to give to parents: that the vaccine is much safer than the disease. It needs to be encouraged for children to get it because it’s going to protect them against something that, even though it might not be a high risk, is not a zero risk.
Any other take-home messages you want to provide to listeners?
Paul A. Offit, MD: Just that there are no risk-free choices. I think people choose not to get something thinking that’s a risk-free choice. There are no risk-free choices in medicine, just choices that take different risks, so take the lesser risk.
William J. Muller, MD, PhD: Thank you for joining us for this discussion of pediatric COVID-19 vaccines. I’d like to thank Dr. Offit for being a panelist, and I’d like to thank the Contemporary Pediatrics® staff for allowing us to have this discussion and the viewers for joining us. I hope you look forward to upcoming Contemporary Pediatrics® videos in the future.
Transcript Edited for Clarity