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What to know about the approved vaccine for children age 5 - 11

The COVID vaccine was approved for children ages 5 - 11, on November 3, 2021. Photo courtesy of IHC.

Dr. Andrew Pavia, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health and Director of Epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, gave an update on the child vaccine, which was approved on November 3, by the FDA. He said, “The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPA) gave a recommendation to the FDA stating the benefits of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five-11 outweighed the risks.

“The advisory committee ended with a unanimous vote that the benefits greatly outweighed the risks and that Pfizers shot should be opened to 28 million children in that age group.”

Pavia also stated, “There is a myth going around that children aren’t severely affected by COVID. It is completely false. They are much less likely to die from COVID related issues, but they are still highly affected. Around five percent of children that were affected still had lingering side effects from COVID six months after the original symptoms occurred.

“In Utah, there have been 600 hospitalizations for children with COVID in 2021.

Pavia added, “The effectiveness and the immune response was at least as good as the 18 - 26-year-old vaccine. The side effects were similar as those seen in adults, which includes sore arms, redness in the arms, swollen lymph nodes and sometimes fever and chills. The vaccination doses for kids are a lower dosage, which resulted in lower chances for fever and chills, but still happened on occasion, and no serious side effects were presented to the FDA, which included around 3200 kids who got the vaccine.”

Pavia reiterated, “The important thing to realize is the approval for the vaccination is a process which is complex and it is under constant scrutiny for safety and the data is constantly being reviewed as it comes in. For example, that’s how the blood clot issue was found in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The next step is to wait for the CDC to make recommendations on how to use the vaccine.

“After it becomes available, safety reports will be looked at seven days a week. We don’t know what we don’t know, but as more information comes in, the rare complications will present themselves, but we know it’s safe and effective in preventing the spread of COVID among children.”

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