Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for children?
Yes, US regulators have authorized Pfizer’s toddler vaccine after millions of children aged 12 to 17 have successfully received the only vaccine available to children in the country.
Those between 5 and 11 years old will receive only a third of the dose taken by adolescents and adults. The FDA approved children’s doses on Friday, and then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will recommend who should get them.
A study found that Pfizer-BioNTech childhood doses of vaccine are 91% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19. Children aged 5 to 11 years developed antiviral antibodies that were as strong as adolescents and young adults who received regular doses, with similar or less irritating reactions such as pain in the arms, fever, or pain.
The FDA has evaluated the safety of children’s doses in 3,100 vaccinated young adults. Regulatory authorities considered the data to be sufficient, given the mine of safety information from hundreds of millions of higher doses given to adults and adolescents around the world.
It is very rare that adolescents and young adults who are injected with the Pfizer vaccine or a similar vaccine Moderna experience a serious side effect, heart inflammation, or what doctors call myocarditis. This is mostly in young men or teenage boys and usually after a second dose. They tend to recover quickly, and after careful scrutiny, US health authorities concluded that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed this small risk.
To put the risk in context, COVID-19 also causes heart inflammation, often more serious, said Dr. Matthew Oster, a 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 medications, again mostly in adolescent boys and young men. Oster said one theory is that testosterone and puberty play a role, which is partly why many experts expect any vaccine-related risk to be lower for younger children receiving a lower dose.
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