APR 24, 2022 11:47 AM PDT

COVID-19 Vaccine is Safe, Effective for Kids & Teens

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

A variety of studies by different reseaech groups have now confirmed that the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is safe for children between the ages of 5 and 11, and the vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalization due to SARS-CoV-2 infection (by the Omicron variant) by about two-thirds, or 68 percent. The multi-center study also indicated that the risk of hospitalization among adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 was also reduced, although the vaccine was slightly less effective against the Omicron variant compared to the Delta variant.

The vaccine still helped prevent adolescents and children from needing life-supporting interventions if they did become infected with either Delta or Omicron; vaccinations reduced those interventions by 96 percent for Delta, and 79 percent for Omicron.

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of chronically infected and partially lysed cells (blue) infected with a variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. / Credit: NIAID

Writing in Science, Jeffrey S. Gerber, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at CHOP, noted that many parents - an estimated 42 to 66 percent are reluctant to get their kids vaccinated. They added that COVID-19 is a childhood illness, regardless of popular perception. In the early days of the pandemic, kids made up about 3 percent of cases while they now account for 25 percent; tens of thousands of children have been hospitalized for COVID-19 even though about one-third of them had no preexisting condition. Over 700 American children have died from COVID-19, putting the virus among the top ten causes of death for children in the US, while the vaccine has not killed any children.

The authors also noted that myocarditis complications from the vaccine have been mild and rare, while cardiac complications from a SARS-CoV-2 infection can be serious and life-threatening. The viral infection also attacks multiple organs.

Vaccination can also help kids get back to participating in extracurricular activities and play time, which is essential for their development. They added that opting out of a vaccine is not a risk-free choice, "it’s a choice to take a different and more serious risk," they wrote.

The study results reported in the New England Journal of Medicine should reassure parents "that COVID-19 vaccination in eligible children and adolescents continues to protect against the most severe outcomes associated with COVID-19, regardless of variant type,” said study co-author Bria Coates, MD, critical care physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Assistant Professor at Northwestern University.

“It is difficult to predict whether the vaccine will be as effective against the current subvariant of Omicron, but most likely the level of protection would be similar. Our results reinforce the importance of COVID-19 vaccination, including receiving a booster dose for those ages 12 years and older, to protect against critical illness.”

Sources: Science, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Boston Children's Hospital, Price et al NEJM 2022, Walter et al NEJM 2022, The Lancet, JAMA

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAY 17, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
CDC Investigation into Severe Hepatitis Cases in over 100 Children: What to Know
MAY 17, 2022
CDC Investigation into Severe Hepatitis Cases in over 100 Children: What to Know
Over a hundred cases of hepatitis in children in the United States and four hundred worldwide are being investigated by ...
JUN 04, 2022
Immunology
Deciphering the Signals Between Invaders & Immune Cells
JUN 04, 2022
Deciphering the Signals Between Invaders & Immune Cells
Our immune system is a crucial, and has to be ready to respond to a variety of external threats that we are constantly e ...
JUN 26, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Vitamin Supplements are a 'Waste of Money' for Healthy Americans
JUN 26, 2022
Vitamin Supplements are a 'Waste of Money' for Healthy Americans
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against using beta carotene or vitamin E supplements to preven ...
JUL 08, 2022
Immunology
Solving the Mystery of Failed Staph Vaccines Shows How to Make Them Effective
JUL 08, 2022
Solving the Mystery of Failed Staph Vaccines Shows How to Make Them Effective
Some common bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus have both harmless and pathogenic versions. While staph is often harmles ...
JUL 19, 2022
Immunology
A New Immune Trigger is Identified
JUL 19, 2022
A New Immune Trigger is Identified
The immune system relies on signals, which may be activated by the presence of a pathogen, for example. Chemokines are c ...
AUG 07, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Shows Promise in Preventing Malaria
AUG 07, 2022
Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Shows Promise in Preventing Malaria
A singular injection of a monoclonal antibody treatment candidate has been shown as safe and highly protective in US adu ...
Loading Comments...