Since the first phase of vaccines were rolled out late last year, children or young adults have not been included in the trial process but scientists have now concluded a study to make it available to children aged 5-11 after a trial. This is partly due to the fact that children below the age of 16 the risk of children becoming very ill or dying from Covid-19 has a less chance of happening.
Professor Andrew Pollard, the Chief Investigator on the Oxford Vaccine Trial, in an interview with the BBC noted that most children were relatively unaffected by COVID-19 and were unlikely to become unwell with the virus.
During a study of COVID-19 mortality among children in seven countries published in The Lancet, the researchers estimated that less than two out of every million children died with COVID-19 during the pandemic. This was further confirmed by global data on the spread of the coronavirus pandemic which showed that children and young people make up only 1-2% of cases of COVID – 19 worldwide.
Medical experts from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health say there is evidence Covid – 19 can cause death and severe illness in children although, this is rare. According to them, there is evidence that points to the fact that children may be less likely to acquire the infection.
Despite this, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised parents to get their children 12 years and older vaccinated. This according to them, will help keep children from getting seriously sick even if they do get COVID-19.
On Friday, October 29, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorised a COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. The vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE has been available in the United States to kids aged 12 to 15 since May.
The FDA said immune responses of children 5 through 11 years of age were comparable to those of individuals 16 through 25 years of age. In addition, the vaccine was found to be 90.7% effective in preventing COVID-19 in children 5 through 11.
Here is what you need to know about the vaccine and children:
When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for 5- to 11-year-olds?
The shots are likely to be available in early November. The FDA considered the recommendation of a committee of outside advisers after that panel met on Tuesday, and authorized the vaccine. The CDC director made the final decision after a panel of expert advisors to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met to discuss the administration of the shots in early November.
Is it the same vaccine as the adult one?
Yes, same vaccine but at a lower dose because of the age of the people targeted. Pfizer and BioNTech asked for authorization of a 10-microgram dose of the vaccine, which is a third of the dose size given to people 12 and older. The vaccine is still a two-shot vaccine, with doses given around three weeks apart.
Is it safe?
Safety data from more than 3,000 children who received the vaccine in Pfizer’s 4,500 participants clinical trial was generally comparable to that for 16- to 25-year-olds. The most common side effects for children included fever, headaches and chills, which were generally reported less frequently and milder than for 12- to 15-year-olds.
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) vaccines have been linked to rare cases of heart inflammation called myocarditis, especially in young men.
Still, Pfizer suggested that the rate of myocarditis in the age group is likely to be lower than observed in vaccinated 12- to 15-year-olds due in part to the lower dose.
Does it work?
Pfizer and BioNTech said last month their COVID-19 vaccine induced a robust immune response in the 5- to 11-year-olds in its clinical trial. The companies also said the vaccine showed 90.7% efficacy against COVID-19 in the same group.
If children are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID, why bother vaccinating them?
Health experts say pediatric vaccination is a public health tool to prevent infectious diseases, even ones that do not have high rates of mortality or hospitalization in children. Children already receive vaccines for illnesses that have similar or lower levels of related mortality in kids, like hepatitis A, chickenpox, rubella and rotavirus.
What if my child is a small 5-year-old or a big 11-year-old? Should they get the children’s dose?
The dose is based on age and not weight, according to Brittany Kmush, an epidemiologist and professor at Syracuse University. “Vaccines are different than medication in the dosing strategy and it has more to do with the maturity of the immune system rather than weight or metabolism,” she said.
This story is supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project.