Health

Pfizer Says COVID-19 Vaccine Over 90% Effective For Children

Pfizer’s childhood doses of COVID-19 vaccine appear to be safe and nearly 91% effective in preventing symptomatic infections in children ages 5-11, according to a study published Friday, as the US considers opening vaccinations to this age group.

The shots could begin in early November, when the first children in line will be fully protected by Christmas, if regulators give the go-ahead.

Details of Pfizer’s research have been posted online. The FDA is expected to release its independent review of the company’s safety and efficacy data later in the day.

FDA advisers will publicly discuss the evidence next week. If the agency ultimately authorizes vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the final decision on who should get them.

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Pfizer’s full-size shots are already legal for everyone ages 12 and older, but pediatricians and many parents are looking forward to protecting young children to stop the growth of extra-infectious delta infections and help children stay in school.

More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary health care providers have already signed up for vaccinations.

The Biden administration has procured enough pediatric doses – in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from the adult vaccine – for about 28 million children aged 5 to 11 years. If the vaccine is cleared, millions of doses will be immediately shipped across the country along with baby-sized needles.

The Pfizer study tracked 2,268 children in this age group who received two shots three weeks apart, either a placebo or a low-dose vaccine. Each dose was one third of the amount given to adolescents and adults.

The researchers calculated that the low dose of the vaccine was nearly 91% effective, based on 16 cases of COVID-19 among young people who were given pacifiers, compared with three cases among vaccinated children. None of the young people had reported serious illnesses, but the vaccinated had much milder symptoms than their unvaccinated peers.

In addition, young children who were vaccinated with the low dose developed the same high levels of antibodies against the coronavirus as adolescents and young adults who were vaccinated with the usual dose.

This is important information given that hospital admissions for mostly unvaccinated children hit an all-time high last month.

The CDC reported earlier this week that despite a sharp rise in delta mutants between June and September, Pfizer vaccinations were 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations in children aged 12-18.

A study by Pfizer in young children found that low-dose vaccinations were found to be safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects such as pain in the arms, fever, or pain experienced by adolescents.

The study is not large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as inflammation of the heart, which sometimes occurs after a second dose, mostly in young adults.

While children are at a lower risk of serious illness or death than older adults, COVID-19 has killed more than 630 Americans aged 18 and younger, according to the CDC. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that nearly 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks as delta mutant numbers increased.

Moderna is also studying COVID-19 vaccinations for primary school children. Pfizer and Moderna also teach young children up to 6 months of age. Results are expected later this year.


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