Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children? | Chicago News

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(AP Illustration / Peter Hamlin)

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?

Yes, U.S. regulators cleared Pfizer’s vaccine for young children after millions of children ages 12 to 17 had already been safely vaccinated, the only one available for children in the country.

More than 5 million children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received a first dose since early November, and government safety oversight has found no unexpected issues.

This age group receives child-sized doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one-third of the amount used to immunize anyone 12 years of age or older. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the shots based on a study showing that children’s doses were 91% effective in preventing symptoms of COVID-19. Children aged 5 to 11 developed anti-virus antibodies as strong as those of adolescents and young adults who received regular doses, with similar or less annoying reactions such as pain in the arms, fever or chest pain. aches.

The FDA has evaluated the safety of doses for children in 3,100 vaccinated young people. Regulators deemed this data sufficient, given the wealth of safety information from hundreds of millions of larger doses administered to adults and adolescents around the world.

Very rarely, adolescents and young adults who have received the Pfizer vaccine or a similar vaccine made by Moderna experience a serious side effect, inflammation of the heart, or what doctors call myocarditis. This is mainly in young men or adolescents, and usually after the second dose. They tend to recover quickly, and after close scrutiny, U.S. health officials concluded that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed this low risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking at a handful of reports of heart inflammation, mostly mild and brief, in people 5 to 11 years old since starting vaccinations in this age group.

To put the risk into context, COVID-19 also causes heart inflammation, which is often more severe, said Dr. Matthew Oster, pediatric cardiologist at Emory University. It also sometimes occurs in children who develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome after coronavirus infection.

Before the pandemic, doctors routinely diagnosed heart inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infections or drugs, again primarily in adolescents and young men. Oster said one theory is that testosterone and puberty play a role, which is part of why many experts expect any vaccine risk to be lower for young children given a lower dose. .



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