Covid-19 mRNA injections are safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11, large study finds, though vaccine uptake remains low

Covid-19 mRNA injections are safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11, large study finds, though vaccine uptake remains low

top line

mRNA Covid vaccines, like the shots from Pfizer and Moderna, are effective in preventing serious infection and disease and have low rates of serious side effects in young children, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics on Tuesday, strongly underlining the benefits of vaccination as uptake of injections remains poor.

key facts

Covid-19 mRNA vaccines were effective in preventing symptomatic or asymptomatic coronavirus infections in children aged 5 to 11 years, according to a review and analysis of 17 published studies covering more than 10 million vaccinated children and more than 2.6 million of unvaccinated children.

The research, which covered the omicron and delta variants, also showed that the vaccines helped prevent severe illness from Covid-19 and reduced the risk of hospitalization.

Vaccination also helped reduce the chances of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but dangerous, possibly fatal complication associated with covid-19 infections in children.

While most children will experience at least one side effect after being vaccinated, they were generally mild and resolved within several days, the researchers said.

They added that serious side effects were rare, including myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

The potentially serious condition occurred in only 1.8 per million vaccinees after the second shot, the researchers said.

crucial appointment

In a linked comment, Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician and director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said the poor acceptance of the vaccine was due to parental concerns about the vaccine’s safety and the belief that covid-19 was not severe enough in young children. children to justify safeguards against it. Both factors do not justify giving up vaccination, said Offit, who was not involved in the research. This study demonstrates the safety of available vaccines and the “miniscule” risk of serious side effects such as myocarditis, Offit explained, and while it is “much less devastating in children than in older adults,” children are still at risk of Serious and rarely fatal infections. “Given the amount of information currently available to parents, the decision to vaccinate their children should be an easy one,” Offit wrote.

key background

Covid vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 have been available in the US for more than a year after the first shots were licensed in late 2021. The shots were created using the same mRNA formula as supports Adult Injections from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, which research has repeatedly shown to be safe and effective. Despite the abundant evidence showing the benefits and safety of these vaccines in children, which is evaluated in this study, hesitancy among parents is high and acceptance remains low, even when the parents themselves have been vaccinated. Less than a third of children ages 5 to 11 have completed their two-shot primary vaccination series, according to CDC data, and only about 40% have received at least one dose. Boosters are available, but they have proven equally unpopular: Less than 4% have received the recommended updated booster shot. The reluctance of parents to vaccinate their children fits into a constant climate of hesitancy and growing skepticism that has led to a resurgence of diseases like chickenpox and measles in the US.


Vaccination rates are even lower in children under 5 years of age. About 5% of children ages 2 to 4 and about 3% of babies younger than two have completed their main round of Covid vaccinations (three for Pfizer, two for Moderna), according to CDC data. Respectively, about 10% and 7% have received at least one vaccination.

Other reading

‘This will happen before 2030’: How the science behind covid vaccines could help fight cancer (Guardian)

Cancer vaccine trials, using the same mRNA technology behind Covid injections, could launch in the UK this September (Forbes)

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