On Thursday, independent vaccine experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a Pfizer Covid booster injection for children ages 5 to 11, as infections rise across the country and immunity from the first two doses decreases.
The committee voted 11-1 in favor of a recall for the age group. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will likely sign the panel’s recommendation, which would allow pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and other health care professionals to start administering the shots.
Covid infections are on the rise again in the United States as more sub-variants of transmissible omcrons sweep across the country. The United States averages more than 99,000 new infections a day as of Tuesday, a 22% increase from the previous week, according to data from the CDC. Hospitalizations have also increased by 22% in the past week, with an average of more than 3,000 people hospitalized with Covid per day, according to the data.
Although Covid is generally less severe in children than adults, more children between the ages of 5 and 11 were hospitalized during the omicron wave than at any other time during the pandemic. according to CDC data. Public health officials are also concerned about children developing long-term health conditions such as Covid and multisystem inflammatory syndromeMIS-C for short, a serious condition associated with Covid infection that affects multiple organ systems.
More than 8,000 children have developed MIS-C since the start of the pandemic, with children between the ages of 5 and 11 most commonly affected in 46% of reported cases. according to CDC data. Sixteen children in the age group died from MIS-C, 23% of the 68 total deaths reported among children of all ages.
Currently, only 29 percent of children ages 5 to 11 in the United States have completed their first round of Pfizer vaccinations, according to the CDC. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 4.8 million children in the age group have contracted Covid and more than 15,000 have been hospitalized, according to data from the CDC.
With the increase in cases, the immune protection provided by vaccines against infections has waned as more time has passed since people received their primary vaccination series. Omicron and its sub-variants are also adept at evading the antibodies that block the infection.
In the 5-11 age group, Covid vaccination was 43% effective against infection 59 days after the second dose during the time omicron became the dominant Covid variant, according to CDC data. However, vaccination was 74% effective in preventing hospitalization in patients aged 5 to 11 years against all variants of the virus.
Pfizer presented data from a small group of 30 children between the ages of 5 and 11 showing that a third dose increased infection-blocking antibody levels against omicron by 22 times one month after administration compared with two doses. Dr Charu Sabharwal, Pfizer’s director of clinical vaccine research, said that increasing antibody levels should confer real protection against the omicron variant, although the company did not present efficacy data at its meeting on Thursday.
Sabharwal said most reactions to the third dose in a larger group of 401 children were mild to moderate, with fatigue and headache the most common. The fever rate was low, and none of the children reported a temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius. There were no cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, or inflammation of the heart. Ten children had swollen lymph nodes, but cases were mild and resolved within a week of onset, according to Pfizer data.
More than 18 million doses of Pfizer have been given to children between the ages of 5 and 11 in the United States since the two-dose vaccination series was approved for the age group in November. The vast majority of vaccine reactions, 97 percent, were not serious, according to data from the CDC. The most common side effects of the shots were fever, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and fatigue.
Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, after Pfizer’s second stroke is rare in boys between the ages of 5 and 11 with 2.7 cases reported per million doses administered, which is far less than in older boys. aged 12 to 15 who reported 48 cases of myocarditis per million doses, according to data from the CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
The CDC tested 20 cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, in children between the ages of 5 and 11 in April after Pfizer vaccination. The vast majority of myocarditis patients were boys, 17 were hospitalized and 1 died. The boy who died had no evidence of viral infection, developed fever 12 days after dose 1 followed by stomach pain, vomiting and death on day 13.
CENTER FOR DISEASE PREVENTION AND CONTROL, in a large study published in Aprilfound that the risk of myocarditis is greater after Covid infection than vaccination with Pfizer and Moderna shots.