COVID vaccine now available to ages 5-11
Parents and families with children 5 through 11 years old now have the opportunity to add a layer of protection against COVID-19. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the younger age group.
Pfizer may be administered as a two-dose primary series at three weeks apart. The 10-microgram dose is lower than that used for those aged 12 and older (30 micrograms).
In the FDA’s report, immune responses of children 5 through 11 were comparable to adolescents and young adults with an efficacy rate of 90.7%. Safety studies included approximately 3,100 children given the vaccine (no placebo)—and no serious side effects were detected in the ongoing study. In clinical trials, the CDC reports mild and similar side effects seen in adults as well as other vaccines recommended for children. The most common was a sore arm.
COVID-19 vaccines have and continue to undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in the history of the United States. In fact, the FDA asked for four to six months of follow-up safety data from children’s clinical trials versus the two months with adult vaccine trials.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinating children will not only protect them and reduce their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations or developing long-term complications, it will also reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities. The CDC recommended pediatric vaccination earlier this week, which expands to 28 million children in the U.S.
“As a mom, I encourage parents with questions to talk to their pediatrician, school nurse or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and the importance of getting their children vaccinated,” CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said in a media statement on Tuesday.
Health officials, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 5 years of age and older who do not have contraindications. In a policy statement on Tuesday, November 2, the AAP said the pediatricians’ role in promoting vaccination among their patient population and community is critical in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
As of October 17, 691 COVID deaths were reported in children and teens under the age of 18, and, in children under 12, 8,300 cases resulted in hospitalization. With the spread of the Delta variant in the summer and early fall, hospitalizations among children under 18 increased fivefold.
Some local pediatricians are offering information online and in person for parents and families with questions about vaccinating young children. Dr. Allison Eckard, division chief for pediatric infectious diseases at MUSC, hosted a live Q&A on Thursday, November 4 discussing COVID-19 and vaccination in children.
For families choosing vaccination for children ages 5 and above, visit scdhec.gov/vaxlocator and select “View Map.” After selecting your area, a list of providers offering the vaccine for children ages 5-11 can be found under “Pfizer-Pediatrics.”