Health officials expect to have more data surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and younger children by late fall, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. Walensky, who was testifying before a Senate subcommittee on the agency’s budget request said de-escalation studies involving children down to 9 are ongoing, and will involve younger children as more data comes in.
“We’re working towards getting a vaccine that’s available for all people,” Walensky said, adding that the agency hopes to “have more available data in late fall and by the end of the year.”
She added that even in the absence of COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized for younger age groups, “schools can be a very safe place.”
Walensky had appeared alongside Dr. Anne Schuchat, the agency’s outgoing deputy director who spoke to the protection vaccines can offer pregnant women.
“COVID complicates pregnancy,” Schuchat said. “So, women who are pregnant and get COVID have worse experiences with the infection than do non-pregnant women, with more time in the ICU, more risk of severe outcome including those rare deaths.”
Schuchat said that the illness also increases the risk of premature birth, and that while clinical trials rarely include pregnant women the data collected so far suggests the vaccines are safe.
“We are fortunate that there has been an intense effort to get data about women who do get vaccinated while pregnant to understand what happens so other women can learn from that,” Schuchat said. “Based on what we know right now we recommend that women be offered vaccines during pregnancy, that they’re eligible to get them and that they can make a choice about it.”
Schuchat said that officials have “reassuring data” regarding COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women, “particularly in the third trimester,” and that researchers are continuing to follow this population in coordination with the FDA.
“We’ll be expecting this summer to have even more data, particularly about vaccines given earlier in pregnancy,” Schuchat said.
She added that researchers are hopeful the vaccines provide protection to unborn babies similar to how the flu shot works.