Moderna for the middle children

Good news for kids hoping for jabs in arms (which used to sound like an oxymoron before this spring): Moderna has announced promising results for its trial in adolescent-aged children. In around 4,000 adolescents, the vaccine proved to be 94.1% effective in preventing disease. No cases in the vaccinated group were found two weeks after the second shot, while 4 cases were found in the unvaccinated control group. 

On Tuesday, May 25, Moderna showed in a clinical trial that its mRNA vaccine is safe and effective in people ages 12 to 17. The company will apply for FDA emergency use authorization in June. This follows the semi-recent authorization of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine for the same age group, which happened at the end of March. 

While children tend to have less severe complications from COVID-19 on the whole, serious illness is still quite possible. And even though rates across the country are falling due to more widespread vaccination, it’s still important that kids get vaccinated as herd immunity is not quite in our grasp yet. 

The availability of another vaccine may help more people in this age group get protected; however, the rest of the world has nowhere near the access to vaccines that U.S. citizens over age 12 do right now. In April, health policy experts estimated that the United States might have an excess of up to 300,000 extra vaccines. 

That being said, adolescents should still get vaccinated if it is available to them. This problem isn’t the fault of citizens wanting to get protection; it’s about the failures of governments and systems to provide vaccine equity.

More vaccine reporting

  • U.S. moves to approve booster shots despite minimal evidence
    This week, the federal government announced that the U.S. intends to provide third vaccine doses to all Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. This booster shot distribution will start in September, with adults becoming eligible once they hit eight months after their second shot. Many epidemiologists, vaccine experts, global health experts, and other scientists have criticized the decision.
  • Three more COVID-19 data points, August 15
    A couple of additional items from this week’s COVID-19 headlines: children hospitalized with COVID-19, immunocompromised Americans now eligible for a third dose, and low cases linked to Lollapalooza.
  • The case for a moratorium on booster shots
    This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for wealthy nations to stop giving out booster shots in a push towards global vaccine equity. These nations should stall any booster shots until at least September, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference on Wednesday.
  • A dispatch from Provincetown, Mass.
    This week, I had the opportunity to talk to Mike, a Bear Week attendee from Pittsburgh, who caught COVID-19 in Provincetown. He told me about his experience attending parties, getting sick, and learning about the scale of the outbreak.
  • Vaccine requirements are the next big strategy
    After vaccine incentives largely failed to drive up vaccination numbers, government agencies and corporations alike are now opting for requirements. Hundreds of thousands of Americans learned this week that, in order to keep their jobs, they need to get their shots—or go through a more arduous process like weekly COVID-19 testing.

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