Kids in North America are beginning to roll up their sleeves for the Pfizer vaccine after it was approved for 12- to 15-year-olds this month. The European Medicines Agency is reviewing similar applications. So when will kids in Australia be getting the jab?…
Do kids need to be vaccinated?
Children rarely develop severe forms of COVID-19, and death from the disease is even rarer. However children and teenagers can spread SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
There’s increasing evidence the vaccines impede transmission of SARS-CoV-2, so vaccinating children is expected to benefit the wider community, even though children themselves are at lower risk of COVID-19 complications.
Are Covid vaccines effective for kids?
A clinical trial conducted by Pfizer-BioNTech involving 2,260 adolescents aged 12 -15 years reported a 100 percent efficacy rate of the vaccine. The immune responses that researchers measured were seen to be very good in this age group, higher than that seen in the 16-25 year old group.
Are they safe?
Pfizer-BioNTech reports that side effects in adolescents are the same as in young adults 16 to 25 years, including injection site pain, headache, fever, chills and fatigue as the most common. Side effects tend to be brief and last 24-48 hours.
When will children get vaccinated in Australia?
Whilst there are currently no licensed COVID-19 vaccines for children in Australia, this is expected to change with applications to the Therapeutic Goods Administration in the coming months.
“Children under 16 have been considered in Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout strategy, and will constitute phase 3.”
The current focus is on adult priority populations, given their greater risk of developing severe disease. Based on the current speed of the roll out it appears unlikely that Aussie kids will be asked to roll up their sleeves for many months to come.
Christopher Blyth is a paediatrician, infectious diseases physician and clinical
microbiologist at the University of Western Australia. Peter Richmond is professor of Paediatrics at the University of Western Australia. Ushma Wadia is a paediatrician and vaccine trials clinical research fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute. This piece first appeared on The Conversation.