When kids aged 5-11 begin receiving special-sized doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech in November, they and their parents can be confident those doses will be more than 90% effective at preventing symptomatic infections, according to data from a study of 2,268 children.
The kids received either a one-third dose of the adult vaccine or a placebo, with a three-week gap between shots. Sixteen kids who got the placebo had symptomatic COVID cases, while only three vaccinated kids did, good for a 90.7% efficacy rate.
An FDA panel is set to discuss the study results next week. Should they recommend that the vaccine is safe and effective for kids, the CDC will then determine eligibility. There could be as many as 28 million children eligible throughout the U.S. More than 25,000 doctors have signed up to provide vaccines to kids aged 5-11.
The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines have proven to be more than 90% effective at preventing laboratory confirmed infection in adults and children 12 and older. Moderna is also studying the effects of its vaccine on kids 5-11, and both companies are testing dosing and efficacy among children as young as 6 months, with results expected by the end of the year.
Children are less susceptible to severe infection than adults, and none of the kids in the study experienced severe illness, but those who received the placebo had more and worse symptoms than the vaccinated kids. While vaccinating younger children will protect them, it will also help prevent them from spreading infections to more vulnerable adults and free up their parents and caretakers back to work.
In anticipation of approval, the Biden administration has released a plan to get kids 5-11.
“The start of a vaccination program for children ages 5-11 will depend on the independent FDA and CDC process and timeline, but our planning efforts mean that we will be ready to begin getting shots in arms in the days following a final CDC recommendation. These steps will be critical in ensuring that we are staying ahead of the virus by keeping kids and families safe, especially those at highest risk,” it reads in part.