Federal health regulators said late Friday that kid-size doses of Pfizer’sin elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues as the U.S. weighs beginning vaccinations in youngsters. Before a public meeting next week, the Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of Pfizer’s data to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a to vote on that question.
In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that the vaccine’s benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any potential severe side effects in children in almost every scenario. But agency reviewers stopped short of calling for Pfizer’s shot to be authorized. [time-brightcove not-tgx=” true”] The agency will put that question to its panel of independent advisers next Tuesday and weigh their advice before making its own decision.
Children could begin vaccinations early next month — with the first youngsters in line fully protected by Christmas. If the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Full-strength Pfizer shots are already recommended for anyone 12 or older. Still, pediatricians and parents anxiously await protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagiousand help keep kids in school.
The FDA review affirmed results from Pfizer posted earlier in the day, showing the two-dose shot was nearly 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children. Researchers calculated the figure based on 16 children. No severe illnesses were reported among any youngsters, but the vaccinated ones had much milder symptoms than their unvaccinated counterparts.
Most of the study data were collected in the U.S. during August and September when thehad become the dominant COVID-19 strain. The FDA review found no new or unexpected side effects. Those that did occur mainly consisted of sore arms, fever, or achiness. However, FDA infrequent side effects, including myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation that occasionally occurs after the second dose.
The agency used statistical modeling to predict how many hospitalizations and deaths fromwould prevent versus the potential heart side effects it might cause. In four pandemic scenarios, the vaccine prevented more hospitalizations than expected from the heart side effect. The vaccine could cause more hospitalizations than it would avoid only when virus cases were deficient. But overall, regulators concluded that the vaccine’s protective benefits “would outweigh” its risks.
While children run a million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks as the delta variant surged, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 has killed mover630 Americans 18 and under. Nearly 6.2
Thehas purchased enough kid-size doses — in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccines — for the nation’s 5- to 11-year-olds. More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers have already signed up to get the shots into little arms. If the vaccine is cleared, will be promptly shipped around the country, along with kid-size needles.