According to new data, two doses of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine provide almost no protection against coronavirus in children aged 5-11 years old. This finding could have serious consequences for parents and their children.
The effectiveness of the vaccine dropped from 68 to 12 percent in the age group in December, January when the Omicron variant of coronavirus started circulating widely in the United States.
Researchers found that the Pfizer shots still provided protection against serious illnesses from Covid. However, hospitalization protection declined to 48 percent from 100 per cent over the same period.
These findings were posted Monday to a preprint server and are not yet peer-reviewed. They looked at health records of Covid cases among children and adolescents in New York City between Dec. 13th and Jan. 30.
Parents with children who have been vaccinated may find it difficult to resume their pre-pandemic routines. This age group is only eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two doses have been given to more than 7 million children between 5 and 11 years old. This is approximately 25% of the total number who received the Covid vaccine .
According to Dr. Peter Hotez (codirector of the Center for Vaccine Development, Texas Children's Hospital), the vaccine's lower effectiveness against infection could be partly due to the smaller dose given to children 5-11 years old. He also helped to develop a Covid shot that utilizes old vaccine technology.
The Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine dose of 10 micrograms to be administered to children ages 5-11, one-third less than the dose given to all people 12 and older. These two doses are administered three weeks apart.
Researchers from New York State also looked at vaccine data in children aged 12-17. They found that older children who receive a higher dose of vaccines performed better.
According to data, vaccine effectiveness against infection in older children fell to 51 percent from 66%. The vaccine effectiveness against hospitalization fell to 73 percent, from 85 percent.
Hotez stated that it was more likely than not that the current lower dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is sufficient to protect the 5- and 11-year-olds. Hotez suggested that a third dose might be necessary.
Pfizer is not yet certain if it will apply for FDA approval to make a booster dose available to children aged 5-11. Pfizer stated in a statement to NBC News that it is confident about the safety and protection of its Covid vaccine. However, early data suggest that people who have been vaccinated with three doses of Covid may be more protected.
Expert in vaccines at Children's Hospital Philadelphia, Dr. Paul Offit said that it would be difficult to determine if a higher dose or another shot is required for children aged 5-11 years. The omicron variant of the vaccine has already been shown to bypass some immunity in adults who have been vaccinated or boosted.
He said that he didn't believe you could tell the difference yet, because omicron can be immune evasive so even if you are vaccinated, it won't protect you as well.
Offit stated that for the moment, it is encouraging that some vaccines are effective against serious illnesses, although some children might be more susceptible to milder diseases.
Hotez stated that while the vaccine has been able to protect against severe illness, it is not clear if this protection is still being maintained or if it is just due to the omicron variant.
Pfizer announced that it was rescheduling its application for vaccines to the FDA for children 6 months to 4 year olds. This was after it discovered two doses of vaccines did not work in children 2 to 4.
According to the company, it will wait to receive data regarding a three-dose vaccine series.