(The conversation) – The number of COVID-19 cases increases again in the USA – incl among children. In mid-May 2022, the Food and Drug Administration approved a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for American children ages 5 to 11and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed by recommend a booster shot for this age group.
Of course, many parents wonder about the importance and safety of a booster shot for their school-age children. Debbie-Ann Shirleya pediatric specialist in infectious diseases at the University of Virginia, answers some common questions about COVID-19 and booster shots in children that she hears in her practice, and explains the research behind why booster shots are recommended for children ages 5 to 11 years.
1. How important is a booster shot for kids?
COVID-19 is generally milder in children than adults, but serious illness can occur. At the end of May 2022, more than 15,000 children were aged 5 to 11 years has been hospitalized with COVID-19 and 180 children are dead. Below the height of the latest winter wave at the highly transferable omicron variant87% of children in the age group 5 to 11 years who were admitted with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.
In addition, the rare but serious condition that can follow in the weeks following COVID-19 infection is known as Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in childrenor MIS-C, most commonly occurs in children ages 5 to 11. Above 3,800 cases of MIS-C have been reported in the age group 5 to 11 years, and 93% of the children who developed this complication were unvaccinated.
For some vaccines – including those against COVID-19 – the effectiveness decreases over time. Booster shot help strengthen the immune system. More childhood vaccinessuch as tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, require booster shots.
COVID-19 boosters have been shown to improve diminishing protection in teens and adults. Side effects are similar to those reported with the initial series. The risk of myocarditis or myocarditis – a rare side effect that may occur after COVID-19 vaccination – appears to be lower after a third dose than after the other.
2. How well does the immunity hold from the first COVID-19 shots?
When the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was administered to children aged 5 to 11 years, levels of antibody response similar to that of 16- to 25-year-olds in a clinical trialwhich was the basis for FDA’s first approval of the shots in October 2021. Men investigations after the shots were approved found it the effectiveness of the vaccine decreased rapidly in the age group 5 to 11 years during the omicron rise. Despite that, the shots continued to be protective against serious illness and hospitalization.
Vaccination has too proved to be extremely protective against multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. How to talk to children about getting vaccinated.
3. Does a third dose make a difference in children?
In a clinical trial, researchers tested the Pfizer vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 using a 10 microgram booster dose, which is the same dose that children received for the primary series and is one-third of the dose used in adolescents. and adults. By test among 401 children, no new security issues occurredand in the smaller subgroup of children where the immune response was tested, the third shot significantly increased antibody response, including against the omicron variant. Therefore, a third dose seems beneficial to increase immunity in this age group, similar to older age groups.
Booster dose can be given five months or more after the second shot. But at the end of May 2022 was fewer than a third of children aged 5 to 11 had received two shots, which means that only about 8 million school-age children were eligible to start receiving the booster. This can prove to be an important layer of protection for them and help limit interference about schooling and summer activities, especially as mask mandates have gone out of the way.
Children with weakened immune system who was first approved to receive three initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine can now also receive a booster shot – or a fourth dose – as soon as three months after their third dose.
4. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
At the end of May 2022 was more than 18.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been given to children in the age group 5-11 years. Most Covid-19 vaccine side effects – such as pain at the injection site – have been mild and short-lived in children. Fatigue, headaches and muscle aches are other common side effects.
Reports suggest that most cases of myocarditis that follow vaccination are typical improves rapidly with medication and rest. Frequencies of myocarditis has been lower in children aged 5 to 11 years than in adolescents. In any age group, myocarditis is more likely to occur after infection than vaccination.
5. What about children under 5 years?
For parents of children aged 6 months to 5 years, COVID-19 vaccines are also finally in sight. May 23, 2022, Pfizer published new data for this age group, indicating that three shots generated strong antibody responses, were well tolerated without new safety issues, and based on preliminary data, the series was 80% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection. At the end of April 2022, Modern released similar data showing that two doses of its vaccine stimulated good antibody responses and were well tolerated by children under 6 years of age.
If approved by the FDA, the CDC will then make recommendations on its use to the more than 20 million children aged 6 months to 5 years in the United States