Pfizer Says Its Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective in Preventing COVID in Kids Aged 5 to 11

The COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be approved for use in young children by early November

teen vaccine
A child getting vaccinated. Photo: Getty

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in kids aged 5 to 11, the company said Friday, reporting that it prevented any symptoms of the virus 90.7% of the time.

The company submitted data from their clinical trials to the Food and Drug Administration ahead of the federal health agency's meeting on Tuesday, where a group of outside advisors will consider Pfizer's request to grant emergency use authorization for their vaccine in that age group.

Pfizer had studied the effectiveness of two 10 microgram doses, given 21 days apart, of their vaccine in children aged 5 to 11, which is a third of the size of the dose given to adults and kids in the next age group up, those 12 to 18. The researchers said that the dosage was safe for the age group and chosen to reduce side effects while still creating a strong immune response.

Of the 2,268 kids in the trial, 16 kids who received a placebo contracted COVID-19, compared to just three who had the vaccine. No one in the trial developed a severe illness, and the only cases that occurred were in July or after, when the more contagious delta variant was dominant in the U.S.

There were no safety issues during the trial, the company said, and no cases of myocarditis, or heart inflammation. However, the trial was likely too small and the condition too rare for any to turn up.

If the FDA and CDC decide to authorize Pfizer's vaccine, it would be the first COVID-19 vaccine available for young kids.

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The Biden administration said Wednesday that as soon as the vaccine is approved for use, they will make it available at more than 25,000 pediatrician offices and primary care facilities, more than 100 children's hospitals and at pharmacies and schools. The White House said that have purchased enough doses to inoculate the 28 million kids in that age group in the U.S.

Though children are at a lower risk of severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19, they can still get sick and pass the virus on to others. More children have been hospitalized since the emergence of the delta variant, and currently, children are testing positive for COVID-19 at a disproportionately high rate. During the week of Oct. 14, those 18 and younger accounted for 25.5% of all cases in the U.S., according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, despite making up just 22.2% of the total population.

"Millions of adolescents ages 12-17 have been safely vaccinated, and we know vaccines work," the White House said. "Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant. The consequences of a pediatric COVID-19 case can be serious and potentially last months."

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