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Pfizer’s Vaccine Protects Kids From Severe COVID, Including Omicron Variant

Pfizer’s Vaccine Protects Kids From Severe COVID, Including Omicron Variant

Parents, rejoice!

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine gave children 5 and older strong protection against hospitalization and death even during the omicron surge that hit youngsters especially hard, U.S. health officials reported Tuesday.

 (Photo by JAVIER TORRES/AFP via Getty Images)

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) come a day after a study of New York children suggested the vaccine may not be as effective in 5- to 11-year-olds as in older kids — especially at blocking milder infections. That data raised the question of whether kid-sized doses given to those under 12 might be too low. Tuesday’s study also found that during the time when omicron was predominant, the vaccine was 51% effective in preventing emergency room or urgent care visits by 5- to 11-year-olds. That was fairly similar to the 45% effectiveness for 12- to 15-year-olds who’d gotten their second dose months earlier.

The CDC reported Tuesday that between April and early January there were nine deaths related to COVID-19 among vaccinated children ages 5 to 17 — compared to 121 deaths among unvaccinated children that age. Also, the CDC examined pediatric hospitalizations in 10 states from last April to the end of January. The vaccine proved 74% effective against hospitalization in 5- to 11-year-olds. Only two vaccinated children were hospitalized compared to 59 unvaccinated children. In comparison, the vaccine was 92% to 94% effective against hospitalization in 12- to 15-year-olds and 16- to 17-year-olds. Most of the hospitalizations in the adolescents occurred when the earlier delta variant was dominant, while most of the hospitalizations of those younger than 12 occurred during the omicron wave, which started in early December.

Unvaccinated 5- to 11-year-olds were 1.3 times more likely to get COVID-19 in January — at the height of the omicron surge — than vaccinated youngsters, according to new CDC data. For 12- to 17-year-olds, the unvaccinated were 1.5 times more likely to get COVID-19 than their vaccinated peers that month.

But the CDC also said data from multiple other states suggests the issue isn’t children’s ages or dose size — it’s omicron. Vaccination generally is less effective against the hugely contagious omicron variant than earlier versions of the coronavirus — and vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds began just weeks before omicron began circulating.

Pediatricians say the back-and-forth results may seem confusing but that parents need to understand that the shots are still the best way to prevent serious illness.

 

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