Mon | Nov 29, 2021

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine more than 90% effective in kids

Published:Friday | October 22, 2021 | 9:30 AM
This October 2021 photo provided by Pfizer shows kid-size doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Puurs, Belgium. The vaccine appears safe and nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in 5-to-11-year-olds, according to study details released Friday, October 22, as the US considers opening vaccinations to that age group. (Pfizer via AP)

Kid-size doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine appear safe and nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in 5-to-11-year-olds, according to study details released Friday as the United States considers opening vaccinations to that age group.

The shots could begin in early November — with the first children in line fully protected by Christmas — if regulators give the go-ahead.

Details of Pfizer's study were posted online.

The Food and Drug Administration was expected to post its independent review of the company's safety and effectiveness data later in the day.

Advisers to the FDA will publicly debate the evidence next week.

If the agency ultimately authorises the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the final decision on who should receive them.

Full-strength Pfizer shots already are authorised for anyone 12 or older, but paediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem rising infections from the extra-contagious delta variant and help keep kids in school.

More than 25,000 paediatricians and primary care providers already have signed up to get the shots into little arms.

The Biden administration has purchased enough kid-size doses — in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccine — for the nation's roughly 28 million 5-to-11-year-olds.

If the vaccine is cleared, millions of doses will be promptly shipped around the country, along with kid-size needles.

A Pfizer study tracked 2,268 kids in that age group who got two shots three weeks apart of either a placebo or the low-dose vaccine.

Each dose was one-third the amount given to teens and adults.

Researchers calculated the low-dose vaccine was nearly 91% effective, based on 16 COVID-19 cases in youngsters given dummy shots versus three cases among vaccinated children.

There were no severe illnesses reported among any of the youngsters, but the vaccinated ones had much milder symptoms than their unvaccinated counterparts.

In addition, young children given the low-dose shots developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teens and young adults who got regular-strength vaccinations.

That's important information considering that hospitalisations of mostly unvaccinated children reached record levels last month.

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