Final week, the FDA approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11. After conducting their very own assessment, the CDC now recommends this vaccine for kids on this age vary, who can start receiving their first dose inside the week.
Whereas many households have been eagerly awaiting the chance for his or her youngsters to be immunized, others are hesitant. And most dad and mom have questions on how COVID-19 impacts youthful youngsters, vaccine security on this age vary, and whether or not the advantages outweigh potential dangers. As a pediatric infectious illness specialist, I hear sure questions crop up repeatedly. Right here’s what we all know to this point.
How does COVID-19 have an effect on youngsters on this age vary?
Whereas youngsters proceed to be a lot much less possible than adults — particularly adults 65 and older — to get severely sick from COVID-19, some youngsters do get very sick. Hundreds of youngsters 5 to 11 have been hospitalized or want ICU-level help to get better from this an infection. Virtually 150 youngsters on this age vary have died from COVID-19. Moreover, over 5,000 instances of a severe inflammatory situation generally known as MIS-C that may observe COVID-19 an infection have been reported. Nearly all of instances of MIS-C have occurred in youngsters on this age vary.
How has the Delta pressure of the virus affected youngsters?
The Delta pressure of the virus that causes COVID spreads simply, notably amongst individuals who haven’t obtained the vaccine. Kids ages 5 to 11 stay extra prone to an infection, given their ineligibility to be vaccinated. In truth, multiple in 5 new instances recorded over the previous two months whereas Delta infections surged within the US occurred on this age group, in response to weekly studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Kids’s Hospital Affiliation.
Can youngsters unfold the virus to others?
A number of detailed studies describing outbreaks related to settings comparable to summer season camps, daycares, and faculties, and people tracing transmission of COVID-19 inside households, clearly reveal that youngsters can unfold this virus and infect others with whom they arrive into shut contact.
Which COVID vaccines and doses are approved for kids ages 5 to 11?
Pfizer/BioNTech is the primary COVID vaccine approved by the FDA for this age group, primarily based on outcomes from a randomized managed trial evaluating security and immune responses. A separate trial launched by Moderna is being thought-about individually.
In a small variety of youngsters, the Pfizer/BioNTech trial in contrast three doses:
- 30 micrograms (the dose adults obtain)
- 20 micrograms
- 10 micrograms.
This a part of the trial confirmed that 10 micrograms, the smallest dose, resulted in fewer unintended effects whereas nonetheless producing strong immune responses much like responses achieved with larger doses.
Within the subsequent a part of the trial, greater than 2,200 youngsters ages 5 to 11 have been randomly assigned to obtain both a 10-microgram dose of the vaccine (two-thirds of members) or a placebo dose (one-third of members). All obtained two photographs, spaced three weeks aside.
These given the vaccine had related immune responses as 16-to-25-year-olds who had obtained the full-dose sequence of two photographs.
When Pfizer/BioNTech submitted knowledge to the FDA, there weren’t many instances of symptomatic COVID-19 infections in trial members. Out of 19 documented instances, most had obtained the placebo photographs. Estimates counsel the efficacy charge of the vaccine is 90%. (Efficacy measures how a lot a vaccine reduces an infection in a managed trial.) Assessments confirmed that the Delta viral pressure had precipitated the infections.
What will we learn about unintended effects for kids this age?
Most kids had no unintended effects aside from ache on the injection website. Those that did have unintended effects mostly skilled fatigue, complications, and/or muscle aches after the second dose quite than the primary dose. For instance, solely 6% of youngsters had fever after the second vaccine dose. There have been no instances of extreme allergic response to the vaccine.
What just isn’t but recognized?
In very uncommon cases, the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is linked to myocarditis, which is an irritation of the center. When this happens, it’s largely seen in younger males following their second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna). Most instances are gentle, and youngsters present no indicators of long-term damage to the center.
Among the many 5-to-11-year-olds who obtained the Pfizer vaccine throughout the trial, there have been no instances of myocarditis. Nevertheless, this facet impact could be very uncommon and won’t be famous till the variety of youngsters receiving the vaccine is way larger. The FDA and Pfizer/BioNTech will proceed to carefully monitor this age group for any prevalence of this uncommon facet impact.
Can youngsters get vaccinated towards COVID-19 and influenza on the similar time?
Sure. Kids and adults can safely get each vaccines on the similar time. The CDC urges everybody to get flu photographs to assist keep wholesome throughout this flu season.
A randomized, managed trial within the UK evaluated adults who obtained a flu shot or placebo shot in a single arm and their second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine within the different arm. The researchers reported in Preprints with The Lancet that unintended effects and immune responses have been related, whether or not the flu shot or a placebo shot was given similtaneously the COVID vaccine.
What different steps can dad and mom take to guard youngsters towards COVID-19?
Mother and father ought to do not forget that a person just isn’t absolutely immunized and guarded by the vaccine till 14 days after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Masks are beneficial for anybody who’s unvaccinated, or not absolutely immunized, when indoors with folks outdoors of their family. If charges of COVID-19 are excessive the place you reside, masks could also be beneficial indoors for vaccinated people as nicely.
Mother and father can proceed to encourage different easy habits that assist forestall colds, flu, and COVID-19, comparable to washing palms usually, coughing or sneezing into an elbow, throwing away used tissues rapidly, and avoiding crowded locations and people who find themselves sick when attainable.
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