The Oklahoman

Pfizer: Vaccine more than 90% effective in children

- Lauran Neergaard and Matthew Perrone

Kid-size doses of Pfizer’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 U.S. considers opening vaccinatio­ns to that age group.

The shots could begin in early November, with the first children in line fully protected by Christmas, if regulators give the go-ahead. That would represent a major expansion of the nation’s vaccine drive, encompassi­ng roughly 28 million elementary school-age youngsters.

The Food and Drug Administra­tion was expected to post its own review of the company’s safety and effectiveness data later in the day.

Advisers to the FDA will publicly debate the evidence next week. If the agency itself authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the final decision on who should receive them.

Full-strength Pfizer shots already are authorized for anyone 12 or older, but pediatrici­ans and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem rising infections and record hospitaliz­ations among them from the extra-contagious delta variant and to help keep kids in school.

The Biden administra­tion has purchased enough kid-size doses – in special orange-capped vials to distinguis­h them from adult vaccine – for the nation’s 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.

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

The Pfizer study tracked 2,268 children in the 5-to-11 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% effective, 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.

Most of the study data was collected in the U.S. during August and September, when the delta variant had become the dominant COVID-19 strain.

In addition, young children given the low-dose shots developed coronaviru­sfighting antibody levels just as strong as teens and young adults who got regularstr­ength vaccinatio­ns.

In another piece of encouragin­g news, the CDC reported earlier this week that even as the delta variant surged over the summer, Pfizer vaccinatio­ns were 93% effective at preventing hospitaliz­ations among 12- to 18-yearolds.

Pfizer’s study of younger children found the low-dose shots proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects such as sore arms, fever or achiness that teens experience.

The study isn’t large enough to detect any extremely rare side effects, such as the heart inflammation that occasional­ly occurs after the second dose, mostly in young men.

 ?? PFIZER VIA AP ?? Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered for 5- to 11-year-olds in early November.
PFIZER VIA AP Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered for 5- to 11-year-olds in early November.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States