Pfizer says its data shows its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in kids as young as 12.
The company said in its Phase 3 trial in kids 12 to 15 years old, released Wednesday, its COVID-19 vaccine shows 100 percent efficacy and robust antibody responses, exceeding those reported in a trial of vaccinated 16 to 25-year-old participants in an earlier analysis.
"The other thing that they noted too was it seems as though the side effects from the vaccine are similar to what we have seen in the adult population, so that’s good news too," said Dr. Allison Messina, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. "We know that there are some side effects with this vaccine, but generally speaking, they're mild and short-lived."
The trial enrolled 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years of age in the United States. Of the more than 1,000 participants who received the vaccine, none developed a COVID-19 infection. In the more than 1,000 participants that received a placebo, 18 contracted the virus.
“We share the urgency to expand the authorization of our vaccine to use in younger populations and are encouraged by the clinical trial data from adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. “We plan to submit these data to FDA as a proposed amendment to our Emergency Use Authorization in the coming weeks and to other regulators around the world, with the hope of starting to vaccinate this age group before the start of the next school year.”
Tampa Bay area doctors say kids will be an important group to vaccinate to help reach herd immunity. For parents who are hesitant, Dr. Messina said she thinks it's reassuring adults have done well overall with the vaccine and it makes her a lot more confident kids will probably follow the same pattern.
“Physiologically, there are certainly differences between older kids and adults, but there’s not a tremendous amount of difference between, let’s say a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old, who can get safely vaccinated with any of the vaccines right now," said Messina.
While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 compared to adults, the CDC reminds people kids can still be infected, get sick, and spread the virus to others.
“Kids are still going to the hospital with COVID," said USF Health associate professor Dr. Michael Teng. "If there’s a chance my kid is going to go to the hospital with COVID and I could prevent that with a safe and effective vaccine, that’s not even a choice in my world. It's a no-brainer."
Local doctors explain many sets of eyes will be on the data to make sure it is safe before it's approved for younger kids. Pfizer’s vaccine is currently authorized for ages 16 and older.