Pfizer’s modified COVID-19 vaccine for use in children under 5 was 73% effective in shielding them from infection during the Omicron surge this spring, company data released Tuesday shows.
The specially formulated doses for America’s youngest children were approved for distribution in June, although the American Academy of Pediatrics says uptake has been low. Just 6% of children under 5 had gotten immunized by mid-August, the group said.
At the time of approval, the only studies supporting their use in small children were based on levels of antibodies triggered by the shots. The new data shows that the Pfizer vaccine does appear to protect young kids well against symptomatic COVID-19.
In the new study — conducted between March and June of this year, when the BA.2 Omicron variant was dominant — 13 of 794 children under 5 who got the new three-dose vaccine got symptomatic COVID, compared to 21 cases among the 351 kids who received a dummy placebo shot, Pfizer reported.
BA.5 is now the dominant variant, accounting for nearly 90% of all new U.S. cases. However, studies in older kids and adults are finding that the COVID-19 vaccine is shielding people against severe COVID — cases causing hospitalization and death — even as the virus mutates.
Both Pfizer and Moderna submitted their applications this week for updated boosters for use in people ages 12 and older. The Biden Administration on Tuesday announced that a rollout of these Omicron-targeted booster shots could come soon after Labor Day.
There’s more on COVID-19 vaccines in children under 5 at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Pfizer news release, Aug. 23, 2022; American Academy of Pediatrics