Joe Biden’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized COVID-19 vaccine boosters for children as young as five without the approval of its own vaccine advisory committee. The move is reaffirming concerns that the White House is more interested in the politics of the pandemic than the findings of doctors and scientists.
The FDA went forward with approval for booster shots for children between ages 5 and 11 without setting a meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.
Bypassing a meeting of the committee allowed the FDA to avoid public comments from members of the committee who might have expressed doubts about the propriety of the additional shots for younger children.
The FDA normally consults with the advisory committee before issuing significant decisions regarding vaccine use. The committee was called together before initial doses for 5- to 11-year-olds in 2021.
Even as the committee approved the authorization of two doses for children, some committee members expressed uncertainty and said they would not be likely to advise in favor of any boosters. Member Dr. Michael Kurilla said at the time that a single dose would likely be sufficient for the age range.
Committee member Dr. Paul Offit with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told the Washington Free Beacon that the agency has “completely circumvented” the committee regarding boosters, cutting off the procedure for expressing scientific concerns about vaccine approval.
American Commitment president Phil Kerpen said that ignoring the committee indicates the FDA’s focus is not on actually getting the scientific decision right. He added that the FDA did not want to be embarrassed by the comments that would have been made by committee members if they had been allowed to convene.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that the hospitalization rate for children between 5 and 11 from COVID-19 is less than 1 out of 100,000 individuals. Through last year, CDC reported 94 deaths from the 1.9 million reported cases in the age group.
The Biden administration has continued to press for additional COVID-19 boosters among all age groups. It oversaw the CDC recommendation earlier this year for persons 50 and older to receive a fourth vaccine shot.
The FDA issued a press release last week saying the committee’s input was not needed for the decision to approve the boosters for children. The statement said it had been concluded that the decision did not raise any questions that could benefit from additional committee discussions or comments.