CDC recommends boosting Pfizer for children 5 to 11 years old

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended a booster shot of Pfizer Covid for children ages 5 to 11 at least five months after their primary immunization, as infections are on the rise. nationwide and immunity from the first two doses waned.

The CDC’s panel of independent vaccine experts overwhelmingly voted in favor of boosters for underage children after reviewing and discussing the data in a five-hour public meeting. . CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on the recommendation late in the evening, giving pharmacies, doctors’ offices and other healthcare providers the green light to start taking shots. injection.

The CDC is rolling out boosters for kids ages 5 to 11 even though most kids haven’t received their first two doses, with only 29% of the age group fully vaccinated. Walensky, in a statement Thursday, sought to reassure parents that the shots were safe and encouraged them to get their children vaccinated.

“The main mass vaccinations for this age group have lagged behind other age groups, leaving them vulnerable to serious illnesses,” says Walensky. “I encourage parents to keep their children updated with the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations.”

Although Covid is generally less severe in children than in adults, more children aged 5 to 11 years have been hospitalized during the omicron wave than at any other time during the pandemic. according to CDC data. According to CDC data, since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 4.8 million children of this age have contracted Covid, more than 15,000 people have been hospitalized, and more than 180 people have died.

Public health officials are also concerned about children developing long-term health conditions such as long-term Covid and multisystem inflammatory syndromeMIS-C for short, is a serious condition associated with a Covid infection that affects multiple organ systems.

Dr. Grace Lee, chair of the committee and professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine.

More than 8,000 children have developed MIS-C since the start of the pandemic, with children aged 5 to 11 most commonly affected in 46% of reported cases. according to CDC data. Sixteen children of this age died from MIS-C, 23% of the total 68 deaths reported in children of all ages.

Dr. Keipp Talbot, the only person to vote against the booster recommendation, said the US needs to focus its resources on immunizing the majority of children of the age who haven’t had their first shot, instead of continuing it. Continue with the third dose. .

“Very few people have had the first two doses and I think that’s extremely important to focus on before we start boosting them,” said Talbot, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University. “.

The US is now reporting an average of more than 99,000 new infections per day as of Tuesday, up 22% from last week, according to CDC data. Hospitalizations have also increased 22% in the past week, with more than 3,000 people being hospitalized on average each day, according to the data.

As cases have increased, the immune protection offered by vaccines against infections has waned because more time has passed since people got their first two shots. Omicron and its sub-variants are also adept at dodging antibodies that block infection.

According to CDC data, in the 5 to 11 age group, the Covid vaccine was 43% effective against infection 59 days after the second dose during the period when the omicron became the predominant Covid variant. However, vaccination was 74% effective in preventing hospitalization in children aged 5 to 11 years against all variants of the virus.

Pfizer presented data from a subgroup of 30 children aged 5 to 11 years showing that the third dose increased levels of infection-preventing antibodies against omicrons 22-fold one month after administration compared with two doses. Charu Sabharwal, Pfizer’s director of vaccine clinical research, said increased antibody levels should offer real-world protection against the omicron variant, although the company did not present data on performance in Thursday’s meeting.

Sabharwal said most reactions to the third dose in a broader group of 401 children were mild to moderate, with fatigue and headache being the most common. Fever rates were low and none of the children reported a temperature higher than 104 degrees F or 40 degrees C. There were no cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, or inflammation of the heart. Ten children had swollen lymph nodes, but the 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 5- to 11-year-olds in the US since the two-dose series was approved for this age group in November, according to CDC data, the majority of reactions to vaccines. please, 97%, not serious. The most common side effects from the shots are fever, vomiting, headache, dizziness, and fatigue.

Myocarditis following a second Pfizer injection is rare in boys aged 5 to 11 years with 2.7 cases reported per million doses, much lower than boys aged 12 to 15 years. reported 48 cases of myocarditis per million doses, according to data from the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

Dr. Sara Oliver, a CDC official, said the rate of myocarditis in children 5 to 11 years old is likely to be even lower after the booster dose, which is the case for other age groups.

The CDC has verified 20 cases of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, in children 5 to 11 years old as of April following Pfizer vaccination. The majority of myocarditis patients were boys, 17 were hospitalized and 1 died. The boy died with no signs of infection, developed a fever 12 days after dose 1, followed by abdominal pain, vomiting, and died on day 13.

CDC, in a large study published in Aprilfound that the risk of myocarditis following Covid-19 infection was higher than with the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

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