New Delhi: According to a study released on Friday, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appears safe on children and is effective in preventing symptomatic infections in around 91 per cent children aged 5 to 11 years. The US is considering vaccination for this age group. Vaccinations for children ages 5 to 11 in the US can begin as early as November. First the children will be fully protected until Christmas, then this vaccination program will be carried forward.
Details of Pfizer’s study were posted online. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was expected to post its independent review of the company’s safety and effectiveness data later in the day.
FDA advisors will publicly debate the evidence next week. If the agency eventually authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will make the final decision on who should give them these vaccines.
Full-strength Pfizer shots are already authorized for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously providing protection for young children to prevent a growing infection from the extra-infectious delta variant. and help keep the kids in school.
More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers have already given their consent for Pfizer shots to be administered to children.
The Biden administration has purchased enough kid-sized doses in special orange-cap vials to differentiate them from the adult vaccine — for the nation’s nearly 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds. If the vaccine is approved, millions of Pfizer vaccines would be shipped nationwide immediately.
A Pfizer study tracked 2,268 children in that age group who received two shots over three weeks in addition to a placebo or low-dose vaccine. Each dose was one-third of the amount given to adolescents and adults.
The researchers calculated that the low-dose vaccine was about 91 percent effective, based on 16 COVID-19 cases in youth with dummy shots versus three cases among vaccinated children. No serious illness was reported in any of the youth, but those vaccinated had more mild symptoms than their non-vaccinated counterparts.
In addition, younger children who developed the low-dose shots developed strong anti-coronavirus antibody levels, similar to teens and young adults who received regular strength vaccinations.
This is important information, given that hospitalizations of mostly unrelated children hit record levels last month. The CDC reported earlier this week that the Pfizer vaccination was 93 percent effective at preventing hospitalizations among 12- to 18-year-olds, despite delta mutants increasing between June and September.
Pfizer’s study of young children found that the low-dose shots proved safe, with similar or less temporary side effects such as sore throat, fever, or pain that teens experience.
The study is not large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as heart swelling that sometimes occurs after the second dose, mostly in younger men.