By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Late Tuesday afternoon, an FDA advisory panel cleared the use of Moderna’s COVID vaccine for children over 6 years of age. It was a unanimous decision from the advisory panel, clearing the Moderna vaccine for children ages 6 to 17.

The full FDA and CDC is expected to approve that, and next two vaccines could soon be available for the youngest children.

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An FDA panel heard from Moderna researchers as it weighed whether to authorize the drugmaker’s COVID vaccine for children ages 6 to 17. Older kids and teens would get two full-strength doses. Younger children would get two doses at half-strength.

“Vaccine effectiveness was successfully inferred in both age strata and vaccine efficacy estimates are similar to adults,” Dr. Jacqueline said.

Currently, only Pfizer’s COVID vaccine is approved for children under 18. There was concern that Moderna’s shots carried a greater risk of myocarditis – a rare inflammation of the heart muscle – but the FDA says the latest research does not back that up.

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“We do not observe a statistically significant higher myocarditis risk in the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine recipients,” Hui-Lee Wong, with the FDA, said.

Wednesday the panel will review Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines for children as young as 6 months. Children under 5 are the only ones not eligible to be vaccinated, so far.

“Obviously the safety in this population is of paramount importance,” Dr. Peter Marks, with the FDA, said.

It’s unclear how much demand there is for this youngest age group. Only 29% of children under 12 have been vaccinated since they became eligible for Pfizer’s shot in November.

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If the vaccines for young children get the go ahead, the Biden administration expects them to be available as soon as next week.

Stephanie Stahl