A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel voted Saturday to recommend Moderna Inc.’s coronavirus shot for people 18 and older, paving the way for the second Covid-19 vaccine to be administered in the U.S. Members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 11-0 to recommend the shot, with three abstaining because of conflicts of interest. The advisers cast the vote in an emergency meeting Saturday after the Food and Drug Administration authorized use of Moderna’s shot Friday.
The recommendations are key to helping vaccine providers understand best practices for administering the vaccine. CDC Director Robert Redfield must sign off on the group’s decisions before they are made final. States, a handful of large cities and territories are slated to soon receive some of the 5.9 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine that the federal government plans to initially release, according to Bloomberg.
Moderna’s vaccine, the second to be authorized for emergency use in the U.S. this month, will be introduced amid more than 200,000 new daily coronavirus cases being reported and record hospitalizations. “I was very eager to put forth this nomination for a second vaccine that could be lifesaving, especially in light of the fact that we are seeing an average 2,600 deaths a day,” said Lynn Bahta, committee member and immunization specialist at the Minnesota Department of Health. “This is horrendous.”
Peter Szilagyi, a pediatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles and CDC advisory panel member, said the benefits of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine far outweighed any risks given the pandemic. The CDC immunization panel process has been “rigorous, fair and transparent,” Szilagyi said, adding that he was impressed with the CDC’s “V-safe” system for enabling people to log any symptoms experienced after receiving Covid-19 vaccines to ensure real-time tracking of adverse events.
A handful of serious allergic reactions were reported in the U.K. and the U.S. from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine. Moderna’s formula includes similar components, prompting committee members to weigh how to monitor people for such reactions. In the U.S., the CDC has identified six cases of anaphylaxis among 272,001 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s shot administered as of Saturday morning, the CDC’s Tom Clark told the committee.
The six people were under the age of 65, Clark said. There is no obvious geographical clustering of cases despite reports of multiple instances of anaphylaxis occurred at some hospitals, Clark said. The CDC recommends vaccine providers monitor most patients for 15 minutes and those with a known history of anaphylaxis for 30 minutes. Vaccine administration sites should stock medications such as epinephrine, according to proposed information for clinicians presented during the meeting.
Pharmacists and doctors administering Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine recognized some vials contained enough liquid to give one or two more shots than they expected. The same could happen with Moderna’s shot, though the company expects that won’t happen often, a company representative told the committee.