Tuesday, the CDC endorsed the recommendation from its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) that children ages 5-11 be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech pediatric vaccine.
The CDC recommendation expands vaccines to 28 million children in the United States in this age group and allows providers to begin vaccinating them as soon as possible. In North Dakota, there are an estimated 82,082 children between the ages of 5 and 11.
COVID-19 cases in children can result in hospitalizations, deaths, MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children) and long-term complications, such as ‘long COVID,’ in which symptoms can linger for months. The spread of the Delta variant resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases in children over the summer. Throughout the pandemic, there have been 8,841 cases of COVID-19 in North Dakotan children ages 5-11, and 22 children were hospitalized.
Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine is one-third the dose of the adult formulation. According to information released by the CDC, “vaccination, along with other preventative measures, can protect children from COVID-19. Similar to what was seen in adult vaccine trials, vaccination was nearly 91% effective in preventing COVID-19 among children aged 5-11 years. In clinical trials, vaccine side effects were mild, self-limiting, and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side effect was a sore arm.”
“The North Dakota Department of Health has ordered and received 18,000 pediatric (5-11) Pfizer COVID-19 doses from the federal government,” said NDDoH Immunization Program Director Molly Howell. “Now that the FDA has authorized, and CDC has recommended this vaccine for this age group, the vaccine will be available at healthcare provider offices throughout the state, including local public health, pediatric, family practice and pharmacies. Healthcare providers are in the process of educating staff and updating protocols, so most providers will begin vaccinating children later this week or early next week.”
COVID-19 vaccines have undergone – and will continue to undergo – the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Vaccinating children will help protect them from getting COVID-19 and reduce their risk of severe disease, hospitalizations, or developing long-term COVID-19 complications.
“Vaccinating children can help protect them against COVID-19 and severe outcomes, as well as reduce disruptions to in-person learning and activities by helping curb community transmission. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child’s healthcare provider, local public health nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the vaccine and explore their benefits and risks,” said Howell.
The NDDoH will be hosting a live town hall event on Friday, Nov. 5, at 1:30pm CT to talk about the availability of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccines for eligible adults. Speakers will include:
- Molly Howell, Immunization Director for the NDDoH
- Avish Nagpal, MD at Sanford Health who specializes in infectious disease
- Joan Connell, Pediatrician at UND Center for Family Medicine
- Grace Njau, Special Projects and Health Analytics Division Director for the NDDoH
- Brenton Nesemeier, Field Services Division Director for the NDDoH will be available for questions