We at Legacy Pediatrics and our families and patients have been waiting for this day to arrive for months. This week the CDC authorized the use of the Pfizer Bio-N-Tech Covid 19 vaccine for school age children 5-11 years of age. This authorization brings us another step closer to the end of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Legacy Pediatrics is proud to be playing a large role in the Pfizer vaccine study. I am privileged to be the principal investigator for the study at RCR and over half of the study participants in the 5–11-year-old age group came from Legacy Pediatrics! I cannot express how proud I am of the children and their families who stepped up to do something that was hard in order to help other children. I told the children repeatedly that what they were doing would help thousands and thousands of children around the world and that they were real heroes. Our Legacy children and all the children and their families who participated in this ongoing trial are making history and will be able to look back with pride on their role in making the vaccine available to children their age.
The trial in 5–11-year-old children used a dose of 10 micrograms (the dose for adolescents and adults is 30 micrograms) and looked at the ability of healthy children to develop a robust immune response by measuring antibody levels after the second dose of the vaccine. The study participants’ immune responses were excellent and achieved levels known to protect against serious illness from Covid 19. Additionally, the vaccine was 90.8% effective in preventing infection with Covid 19!! That is a tremendous level of protection!
There are two main questions I have been asked over the past several months leading up to the EUA authorization of the Pfizer Covid 19 vaccine for use in children 5-11 years old.
First, parents asked if it was necessary to vaccinate children in this age group because they usually don’t get very sick, thankfully. I point out that over 500 children have died from Covid 19 since the pandemic started just 20 months ago. That is over 10 times the number of pediatric deaths we typically see in a flu season. That is a lot of deaths that will be prevented by vaccination and absolutely tragic if your child happens to die from a vaccine preventable death. Second, parents have expressed concern about the development of myocarditis or pericarditis following vaccination. I think there are 2 important facts to consider when assessing risks of this extremely rare complication of the mRNA vaccines. First, the cardiac complications from the vaccine are mild and self-limited in nearly all cases and resolve quickly and in some situations do not need treatment. Second, Covid 19 infection is 40 times more likely to cause myocarditis or pericarditis than the vaccine and the cardiac problems are more severe and potentially longstanding or permanent. If a parent is opting to not vaccinate their child because of concern about myocarditis or pericarditis, the parent is opting for the riskier choice of getting Covid 19 and having a much greater risk of the permanent cardiac complications.
The Pfizer Covid 19 vaccine is safe and effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death from Covid 19. Every member of the Legacy team and all our children are vaccinated, and we encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to help protect our families, loved ones and our community.