The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (@CDC) is recommending the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for all adolescents age 12-15 following the May12th meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Big picture: The vaccine is safe and effective for these kids and clinicians are raring to start giving the vaccine to this age group right away! A lot was discussed at that meeting but read on for some of the important points discussed.
Let’s start with the information on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in kids age 12-15:
➡️This vaccine is 2 shots, given 3 weeks apart, and is the same dose for the adolescents as adults.
Side effects in adolescents were pretty darn similar to adults. They mostly had mild to moderate symptoms after vaccination, like fever, feeling tired, headaches, and achy muscles and joints. Almost all had a sore arm.
➡️Swollen lymph nodes in the neck or armpit can happen after vaccination. Don’t worry. This is normal and not dangerous. It goes away on its own after about 1 week.
➡️There were no serious adverse events (really bad things like hospitalization or suffering permanent disability) related to the vaccine and there were NO deaths.
➡️There were no cases of anaphylaxis or blood clots.
➡️Adolescents 12-15 years old had a good immune response to the vaccine and the estimate of vaccine efficacy was awesome. There were no cases of COVID-19 in the vaccinated group after the second shot (that’s a VE of 100%). BAM!
Next, they talked about adolescents and COVID-19 in general:
➡️There were more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 in children age 12-17 in the US.
➡️127 adolescents have died since the start of the pandemic in the US. Though this number seems low at first glance, it is way too high for this age group, because death in adolescents is always rare. COVID-19 is in the top 10 causes of death in the US for adolescents.
➡️Many kids have underlying health problems that put them at higher risk of severe illness, complication, or death from COVID-19. These include things like asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, and obesity.
➡️21% of all cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C, a potential complication of COVID-19) occurred in adolescents age 12-17. The cases tended to be more severe than cases in younger kiddos.
➡️Adolescents may be more likely to be infected and transmit the virus to others than younger children.
➡️Living with someone who attends in-person school increases that household’s risk of COVID-19.
What about getting the vaccine to these kids?
➡️40-60% of parents plan to get their kids vaccinated.
➡️Primary care physicians surveyed really want to give the vaccine. (Like, really REALLY want to).
➡️School closures suck and are a big deal. Not only were they obviously hard on children and families, but the economic cost over time could total as much as $15 trillion in the US. Vaccines are important to keep schools open.
➡️A focus on health equity will be critical as vaccines are rolled out for this age group.
What was the vote?
➡️Pretty much unanimous! 14 yes votes and 1 recusal (this individual had done work on COVID-19 vaccines so abstained from voting).
Any other interesting news from the meeting?
➡️Any COVID-19 vaccine can now be administered with other vaccines on the same day or within a 14-day window. Though not explicitly studied for this vaccine, safety and efficacy of other vaccines administered together are similar as when administered alone. This is suspected to be true here as well.
➡️Kids are way behind in vaccines during the pandemic than other years (about 11.7 million doses fewer compared to 2019). The group most likely to be behind in shots are adolescents. Get caught up on those vaccines!
➡️People who have had MIS-C can still get vaccinated but may want to wait 90 days after they were diagnosed to get their first shot.
➡️There have been no cases of thrombocytopenia (low platelets) with blood clots after the mRNA vaccines (like Pfizer or Moderna).
Ok, that was a lot and I barely scratched the surface! The ACIP website has all their presentation slides and will post a recording of the meeting. You can find those here and nerd out on tons of data!
Gotta say, we love a good meeting all about vaccine science and public health and appreciate the depth of detail and transparency presented at the ACIP!
All the best,
Those Nerdy Girls