U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has said he believes it’s likely that a COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12 will be given emergency use authorization during the next school year.
Murthy made the remarks during an appearance on the “Skimm This” podcast.
“What are the odds that a vaccine for kids under 12 will be approved during the next school year?” Murthy was asked as part of the podcast’s “lightning round.”
“I think the odds are high,” Murthy responded.
COVID-19 vaccines currently aren’t available for children under the age of 12 in the United States. However, Pfizer said in a statement in June that it was beginning to test its mRNA vaccine in a larger group of children under the age of 12 after selecting a lower dose of the shot in an earlier stage of the trial.
A Pfizer spokesperson said at the time that the company expects data from 5-to-11-year-olds in September and would likely ask regulators for emergency use authorization later that month. Data for children 2 to 5 years old could arrive soon after that, the spokesperson said.
The company also said it’s testing a dose on children in the 6-month to 2-year-old age group and expects to have that data sometime in October or November.
Its vaccine has been authorized for use in children as young as 12 in Europe and Canada. They receive the same dose as adults: 30 micrograms.
This comes as scientists in the United States and elsewhere are studying the possibility of a link between heart inflammation and mRNA vaccines, particularly among males aged 12 to 24 years. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are mRNA vaccines.
The safety committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last month concluded that heart inflammation “can occur in very rare cases” and recommended “listing myocarditis and pericarditis as new side effects in the product information for these vaccines, together with a warning to raise awareness among healthcare professionals and people taking these vaccines.”
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 30 published a study that found that nearly 400 children between the ages of 12 and 17, most of them boys, were diagnosed with heart inflammation after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Heart inflammation wasn’t identified as an adverse reaction during the safety trials for the vaccine.
The CDC’s advisory committee has maintained that the risks of high inflammation don’t outweigh the benefits of the vaccine and continues to recommend it to children aged 12 and older.
Some scientific experts have questioned, however, whether COVID-19 vaccines are appropriate to give to certain groups of people.
The inventor of mRNA vaccine technology, Dr. Robert Malone, has said that the risk-benefit ratio of the vaccine for children doesn’t “look so good.”
“Typically, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices [ACIP] of the CDC would be evaluating risk-benefit ratio for a new vaccine in a vigorous way, using quality-adjust life years,” Malone told The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program.
“And then the ACIP would come out with a recommendation saying this vaccine is good to be used in the elderly. It’s pretty compelling in this case with these vaccines that even though there are adverse events, their risk of COVID death or significant disease is pretty high. So that’s an easy one to say yes to.
“Adolescents, in contrast, have a very, very low probability of disease or death from COVID. … That calculation doesn’t come out looking so good.”
Malone urged people to take the time to do their research before making a decision.
“It’s up to you. It’s your body. It’s your choice. I strongly suggest that you take the time to get informed, do the best you can, and then make the decision that you think is right for you,” Malone said.
Representatives for Pfizer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.
Reuters contributed to this report.