A US Meals and Drug Administration advisory committee really useful Tuesday that the company grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for youngsters ages 5 to 11. Subsequent, the FDA decides whether or not to authorize the vaccine, after which the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention’s vaccine advisory committee will meet to contemplate whether or not it must be really useful for that age group. If CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky indicators off on that advice, youthful youngsters might be getting vaccinated subsequent week.
Many dad and mom and kids have questions on what having this vaccine will imply. Do vaccinated youngsters nonetheless must masks in faculties? Can they see extra buddies and have sleepovers now? And do younger youngsters actually get that sick from Covid-19?
I mentioned these and extra questions with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency doctor and professor of well being coverage and administration on the George Washington College Milken Institute Faculty of Public Well being. She can be writer of a brand new ebook, “Lifelines: A Physician’s Journey within the Battle for Public Well being,” and the mom of two younger youngsters.
CNN: What do we all know concerning the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine for youngsters ages 5 to 11?
Dr. Leana Wen: Based on the info reviewed by the Meals and Drug Administration, the Covid-19 vaccine is greater than 90% efficient in opposition to symptomatic sickness for youngsters on this youthful age group. That’s superb, and it offers a number of reassurance for folks that their youthful youngsters could have a wonderful layer of safety as soon as the vaccine is allowed they usually can get vaccinated.
CNN: Does that imply as soon as youngsters are vaccinated, they’ll cease carrying masks in faculties?
Wen: The CDC has stated that youngsters ought to stay masked in faculties, even after they’re vaccinated. I imagine that it is a place that must be modified over time, relying on native circumstances.
We will consider all of the protecting measures as layers — identical to you put on layers when it’s chilly outdoors. The colder it’s, the extra it’s important to put on to remain heat. Some layers are higher than others.
If there may be a number of virus in the neighborhood, the chance is excessive, and we want a number of layers of safety. If the extent of virus is low, we want fewer layers. The vaccine is one of the best layer now we have, so as soon as youthful youngsters are vaccinated, it might be affordable to debate which different layers it may well change. In areas of low neighborhood transmission, and particularly if different layers like testing are in place, it is perhaps affordable to rethink masking. That is significantly true if all youngsters in a category are identified to be vaccinated.
That stated, it can take some time for youths to get the vaccine. There are additionally many elements of the nation which have excessive neighborhood transmission. I wouldn’t anticipate that masks can all of a sudden go as soon as vaccines for youthful youngsters are made accessible. Some faculties already don’t require masks, and, after all, simply because masks aren’t required doesn’t imply that youngsters must take them off.
CNN: What about different social actions — can vaccinated youthful youngsters take part in additional actions, together with going to sleepovers and the movie show?
Wen: That relies on the dad and mom and the extent of threat tolerance within the household. A whole lot of households haven’t been permitting youthful youngsters to take part in higher-risk actions as a result of the children will not be but vaccinated. As soon as youngsters are totally vaccinated, many dad and mom may determine so as to add again sure actions. Do not forget that being totally vaccinated requires two doses, after which ready till two weeks after the second dose.
Maybe dad and mom had pulled their youngsters out of basketball or soccer as a result of these sports activities practices have been being held indoors. As soon as youngsters are vaccinated, they could determine that the chance of publicity is now a lot decrease and is subsequently well worth the profit to the kid.
If the kid is vaccinated and goes to a sleepover with different vaccinated youngsters, that may even be a lot decrease threat now than earlier than the children have been vaccinated.
Actually, after vaccination, all actions — together with going to the films — will probably be a lot safer. Mother and father ought to consider the medical dangers of their family and have a dialog with their youngsters about what everybody can do as soon as they’re vaccinated.
A household that has infants or youngsters 4 and youthful, or lives with an immunocompromised aged relative, should still determine to proceed precautions, together with avoiding crowded indoor settings with individuals of unknown vaccination standing. Alternatively, a household that’s now all totally vaccinated and customarily wholesome can select to convey again many pre-pandemic actions.
CNN: Is the vaccine protected for youths ages 5 to 11? What sorts of negative effects ought to they anticipate?
Wen: In a research of greater than 2,000 youngsters ages 5 to 11 years previous, the vaccine has been discovered to be protected, with the identical sorts of negative effects as seen in adults. These negative effects embody sore arm, redness on the injection web site, fatigue, fever, chills and headache. They typically are worst throughout the 24 hours following the vaccine, they usually go away in a number of days.
Importantly, there have been no situations of myocarditis, or irritation of the guts muscle, within the research. Nevertheless, myocarditis is uncommon and will not be seen in a research of this dimension. It’s attainable that as extra youngsters are vaccinated, there could also be some circumstances of myocarditis detected, because the inflammatory illness has been linked to the Pfizer vaccine, primarily amongst youthful males beneath the age of 30.
It’s essential to notice that myocarditis additionally happens with Covid-19, and the potential threat of myocarditis related to the vaccine needs to be weighed in opposition to the advantage of the vaccine in stopping an entire host of issues related to the illness.
CNN: What about long-term negative effects of the vaccine?
Wen: The Covid-19 vaccines have been given to lots of of hundreds of thousands of individuals around the globe since December. Uncomfortable side effects are seen within the first few weeks of administration, not months afterward. We even have expertise with many different childhood immunizations, which observe the identical sample. Due to this fact, there is no such thing as a scientific or physiological cause to imagine that the vaccines would trigger long-term negative effects. Alternatively, we all know that the coronavirus itself does lead to long-term issues, together with in youngsters.
CNN: What about youngsters ages 5 to 11 who dwell with youthful siblings who nonetheless aren’t eligible for the vaccine? How ought to they nonetheless deal with threat?
Wen: Mother and father ought to decide about what stage of threat they’re keen to tolerate. Many may proceed to take extra precautions, however realizing that their vaccinated youngsters are higher protected, they may determine to permit for some extracurriculars to return and a few indoor actions to happen once more, particularly if their vaccinated youngsters are associating solely with others who’re totally vaccinated, too.
CNN: What would you say to oldsters who’re nonetheless hesitant to provide their youngsters the vaccine?
Wen: I perceive! We as dad and mom all need one of the best for our kids.
I feel it’s vital to level out that youngsters can and do get very ailing from Covid-19. Based on information offered on the FDA assembly on October 26, there have been 1.8 million circumstances of Covid-19 within the age group of 5 to 11 years previous. Greater than 8,000 youngsters on this age group have been hospitalized and, tragically, 143 have died. Whereas many have had underlying situations, about one-third of these youngsters with extreme sickness have been usually wholesome.
Every little thing we do for our youngsters is about weighing the dangers and advantages. Think about the identified dangers of Covid-19 together with the advantages of the vaccines. For my household, we’re very desirous to get our younger youngsters vaccinated when it’s licensed for them, in order that we will resume many actions now we have placed on maintain out of concern for our youngsters. For a lot of different households, there will probably be a lot aid as soon as their youngsters are capable of be vaccinated and obtain this wonderful stage of safety in opposition to a doubtlessly lethal illness.
In case you are uncertain, it’s all the time a good suggestion to talk together with your pediatrician — and, within the meantime, let’s be sure that all of the adults and older youngsters who’re eligible to be vaccinated achieve this, too.