School leaders’ efforts to keep educating kids in person got a big boost with Pfizer’s vaccine showing 90% effectiveness in preventing COVID in 5- to 11-year-olds.
Two smaller doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech were 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in children 5- to 11-years old, the companies announced Friday.
The vaccine shows “a favorable safety and tolerability profile” and “robust immune responses against all variants of concern including Delta,” in the younger kids, the company said in data submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This age group could begin getting shots before Thanksgiving—the FDA will meet next and the CDC on Nov. 2-3 to consider approving the vaccines for children 5-11. In anticipation of approval, the Biden Administration this week released its plan for rapidly distributing and administering the vaccines.
Pediatricians, who the administration intends to supply with ample vaccine and smaller needles, will be one the main sources of vaccinations for children this fall. Schools will also play a key role in hosting vaccination clinics, the administration says.
The CDC has recorded 1.8 million cases of COVID among children 5-11, including more than 8,600 hospitalizations and 138 deaths.
“Preventing COVID-19 will not only provide direct health benefits to children 5 to <12 years of age, but indirect educational and social development benefits can be anticipated based on alleviating the disruption to in-person education caused by COVID-19 outbreaks in school settings,” Pfizer said. “Facilitating the return to school may also have associated economic and social benefits for children’s families.”
Pfizer says it is still studying the risk of the vaccine causing myocarditis—an inflammation of the heart—in younger children. The company noted that data from Israel show the condition is rare but most common in males aged 16-19, and the risk drops for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age.
The company believes the risk for 5-11-year-olds should be even lower because they will get a smaller dose of the vaccine.