The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released two studies Thursday emphasizing the importance of vaccinating children against the coronavirus.
One study found that serious problems among children 5 to 11 years old who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were extremely rare. The other study, which looked at hundreds of hospital admissions in six cities last summer, found that not all children who became seriously ill were not fully vaccinated.
More than eight million doses of Pfizer have been administered to children 5 to 11 years old in the United States to date. But concerns about the unknowns surrounding a new vaccine have caused some parents to be reluctant to allow their children to be vaccinated, including those who said they preferred to wait for widespread implementation to bring any rare problems to the surface.
By December 19, about six weeks after a campaign to vaccinate children aged 5-11, the CDC said it had received very few reports of serious problems. The agency evaluated reports from clinicians and members of the public, as well as survey responses from parents or guardians of nearly 43,000 children in that age group.
Many of the children surveyed reported injection site pain, tiredness, or headache, especially after the second dose. Nearly 13 percent of those surveyed reported having a fever after the second shot.
But reports of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that has been linked in rare cases to coronavirus vaccines, have remained scarce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 11 verified reports from doctors, vaccine manufacturers or other members of the public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said seven of those had recovered and four were recovering at the time of the report.
The CDC said reporting rates of vaccine-related myocarditis appeared higher among boys and men ages 12 to 29.
A number of parents or physicians have also reported cases of children ages 5 to 11 receiving an incorrect larger vaccine dose intended for older children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said these problems “were not unexpected,” and that most of these reports said children had no problems afterward.
The CDC detailed two reports of deaths, in girls ages 5 and 6 that the agency said had chronic medical conditions and were in “fragile health” before receiving the shots. “In the initial review, no data were found to suggest a causal relationship between death and vaccination,” the agency said.
The separate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report on pediatric hospital admissions provided additional evidence about the importance of vaccinating all eligible children. The study, which looked at more than 700 children under 18 who were admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 last summer, found that 0.4 percent of those children eligible for the injection were fully vaccinated.
The study also found that two-thirds of all hospitalized children had co-morbidities, often obesity, and about a third of children aged 5 years and older had more than one viral infection.
Overall, nearly a third of the children were so ill that they had to be treated in intensive care units, and about 15 percent required medical ventilation. The study found that of all those hospitalized, 1.5 percent of the children died. The six hospitals were in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington, D.C.
“This study demonstrates that unvaccinated children hospitalized for Covid-19 can develop severe disease and reinforces the importance of vaccinating all eligible children to provide individual protection and protect those who are not yet eligible for vaccination,” the study authors wrote. .