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COVID-19 vaccines for children: What are the side effects?

=Vaccines undergo particularly rigorous safety tests before receiving approval for use in the general population. However, no drug is guaranteed to be free from side effects, so what are the side effects that children receiving the COVID-19 vaccine may face?
A nurse gives a boy a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lyman High School in Longwood, FL, on the day before classes begin for the 2021–22 school year. SOPA Images/Getty Images
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5–11 years on October 29, 2021.

Although this may be surprising

other survey findings shed some light on the reasons behind this hesitancy: a fear of side effects.

Vaccine hesitancy is not just over fears of an impact on fertility, however.

So, what are the possible side effects?

What are children going to get?

In the same way that pharmaceutical companies raced to get the vaccine approved for adults, those companies have carried out trials to see if their vaccines are safe and effective in adolescents and children.

Speaking at an Independent SAGE briefing on November 5, 2021, Prof. Deenan Pillay — a professor of virology at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom — said:

“There have been a number of trials. We are always concerned about the untoward effect of all medicines in children, and, of course, we can’t just extrapolate from data that [come] from adults to children. We have got to wait to ensure there is safety in children. And now that has happened.”

 

Most countries offering vaccination

to those over 12 years of age are offering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, Reuters recently reported. Novavax is about to start a study of up to 3,000 adolescents aged 12–17 years across up to 75 sites in the United States. Johnson & Johnson has enrolled children as young as 12 years into existing trials, and AstraZeneca is planning on conducting trials of its vaccine in children as young as 6 years.

Pfizer released data from its phase 2 and 3 trials at the end of September 2021. The data suggest that the vaccine was safe in children age 5–11 years.

Children under the age of 12 years will be offer 10 micrograms (mcg) of the vaccine. Experts hope that this lower dose could result in fewer side effects, as lower doses generally should.

Minor adverse reactions

Senior vice president of Pfizer Vaccine Clinical Research and Development.He revealed that there were very few serious adverse events and no deaths during the phase 2 and 3 trials of children aged 5–12 years. He also explained that the side effects were similar to those that adults experience.

This is compare with 65.6% and 60.9% of adults. Of note were data showing that fever and chills experienced after the vaccine were lower among 5–12-year-olds than among 12–65-year-olds.

Just 6.5% of children aged 5–12 years experienced fever after vaccination, compared with 17.2% of those over 12 years. Also, just 9.8% of those aged 5–12 years experienced chills, compared with 40% of those over 12 years.

 

He said: “To enhance possible detection of the rare events of myocarditis in adolescents and young adults, should [they] occur, specific instructions were provided to be vigilant with symptoms and signs of myocarditis. No anaphylaxis, no myocarditis, and no appendicitis were report.”

 

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Myocarditis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others are currently monitoring rates of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle. This comes following reports in July 2021 that some teenage boys had received diagnoses of this condition after receiving the Pfizer vaccine, which those over 12 years of age have been able to receive since May 2021.

The CDCTrusted Source reports that males aged 12–29 years are most at risk of developing myocarditis.

this represents a very small risk.This is widely report in August 2021.

Conversely, a study in the New England

“Myocarditis is more common in males and females, [and] there are all kinds of theories why […]. [In the study, we found that] it generally was a mild illness, a mild infection and a minor event requiring hospitalization, as people with myocarditis are almost always hospitalized for observation. They required […] very basic anti-inflammatory treatment to treat the inflammation. All were fine, they recovered well.”

He pointed out that as the dose given to 5–12-year-olds is one-third that of the dose given to older children and adults, “it is expected [that] there will be [fewer] side effects and [fewer] adverse events.”

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