Dr. Salma Elfaki examines 16-year-old Diego Alvarez, a patient in clinical trials for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents, conducted by Accel Research Centers in conjunction with Nona Pediatric Center in Orlando, Florida on September 25, 2021.
Paul Hennessy | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images
Pfizer’s Covid vaccine is 93% effective at protecting children between the ages of 12 and 18 from hospitalization, according to a small study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC monitored 464 Covid patients between the ages of 12 and 18 at 19 U.S. pediatric hospitals from June to September as the delta variant spread across the country. Although approximately 72% of them had at least one underlying medical condition that increased the likelihood of serious symptoms, the researchers found that 97% of those who were admitted to the hospital were not vaccinated.
“These data suggest that increasing vaccination coverage among this group could reduce the incidence of severe COVID-19 in the United States,” the CDC researchers wrote in their weekly morbidity and mortality report.
Among the patients with Covid, 6 were vaccinated and 173 were not vaccinated. According to the study, about 43% required intensive care, and 16% of critically ill children received life support, and two of them died.
The CDC’s findings are similar to those of a study conducted in Israel, which showed that Pfizer’s Covid vaccine was nearly 92% effective in preventing hospitalization of patients aged 12 to 15 years. But the Israeli study did not have enough cases to properly assess the full effectiveness of the vaccine against Covid hospitalizations, the CDC writes.
About 61% of the study participants were from the south, as the region experienced increased transmission of Covid from June to September, according to the CDC. The researchers believe that the high concentration of patients from the south may have influenced the results as well.
On August 23, the FDA approved the Pfizer Covid vaccine for anyone 16 years of age or older, leaving it in emergency status for children 12 to 15 years old until further consideration. More than 104 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated with Pfizer vaccines, according to the CDC, and more than 9 million have already received a Pfizer booster dose.
Last month, the CDC authorized Pfizer boosters for select at-risk populations, including all people 65 and older, all medically vulnerable adults, and those facing Covid because of their work. US health officials have refrained from approving boosters for children aged 12 to 18, citing their high likelihood of surviving Covid and concerns about the risk of two vaccine-induced rare heart diseases, myocarditis and pericarditis.
The researchers noted that the study was limited by the small sample size, which did not allow them to correctly measure the effectiveness of the vaccine in patients with underlying medical conditions. They added that they were also unable to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine against the various Covid variants, and said that some participants may have misinterpreted their vaccination status, which they reported.
Pfizer is currently awaiting FDA approval for children ages 5-11. In September, the company released data showing that a two-dose vaccination triggered a “sustained” immune response in young children and children. The FDA may approve injections later this month.
The CDC said 46% of children ages 12 to 15 in the US have been fully vaccinated against Covid, while 54% of children ages 16 to 17 have received the full series of doses as of Monday.