Switzerland has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 to 11 years, according to Swissmedic, the country’s surveillance authority for medicines and medical devices.
Moderna’s Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to the children in two half-doses of 50 micrograms each at an interval of four weeks, Swissmedic said in a news release dated May 13. Older children and adults receive full doses of 100 micrograms.
Moderna’s study on 6 to 11-year-old children found that the immune response triggered by the vaccine against the COVID-19 virus is comparable to results seen in young adults. Some side effects were observed.
“The most commonly reported side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, shivering or nausea, were similar to those in adolescents and young adults. Fever occurred more frequently in children, whereas muscle and joint pains were seen less often than in adolescents or adults. The undesirable effects were generally mild to moderate and lasted for a few days,” the news release said.
Authorities had earlier begun to inoculate 5 to 11-year-old children in January using the Pfizer vaccine. As of May 9, around 8 percent of this demographic received at least a single dose of the vaccine while 6 percent have received double doses, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).
Overall, 69 percent of the Swiss population has received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. In total, four vaccines have been approved for use by Swiss authorities. In addition to Pfizer and Moderna. they are manufactured by Nuvaxovid and Johnson & Johnson.
Switzerland’s approval comes as Moderna has made necessary submissions to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for getting an Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in three age groups—individuals between 12 and 17 years, 6 and 11 years, and 6 years and 6 months. The submissions were made on May 9.
The company’s vaccine is presently approved for use in the United States among adults aged 18 and older. With younger populations, the FDA had sought more data on safety. An advisory panel of the agency is scheduled to meet in June and discuss the application.
Vaccinating children with COVID-19 shots has faced criticism. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75.2 percent of kids up to the age of 11 already had COVID-19 antibodies as of February 2022, indicating that most children have some form of immunity against the virus.
“Parents are waking up to the reality that COVID vaccines are about profits, not health,” said Children’s Health Defense (CHD) president and general counsel Mary Holland in a statement.
“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the risk of injury from these rushed-to-market vaccines outweighs any potential benefit, especially to young children.”