Last updated: July 14, 2022
Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the Health Officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. The COVID vaccines, masks, at home testing, and treatment are how you can continue to protect you and your loved ones from COVID. Last week we talked about how to get the Covid vaccine for the youngest, those 6 months to 4 years old. Today, let’s talk about the data behind that recommendation.
Why should the youngest children get the vaccine?
We often hear that COVID doesn’t affect children as much as adults. And while that’s true, it’s not the right comparison. What we should look at is how COVID affects children compared to other childhood illnesses.
- For 6 month to 4-year-olds, an average of 86 children have died each year over the past two years. Compared to the few years before a vaccine for diseases like Chickenpox, Whooping Cough, and Rotavirus were available, Covid has caused more than 4 times as many deaths per year.
- COVID caused as many or more hospitalizations amongst 6 month to 4-year-olds compared to pneumococcal disease or chickenpox in the years before a vaccine was available for those diseases.
- COVID was the 5th leading cause of death in 1-4 year olds over the past 2 years
The data is clear, COVID causes more severe illness compared to other vaccine preventable diseases in this age group.
What is the data on the effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine for 6 month to 4-year-olds?
During the studies, children in this age group developed an immune response that was similar to a comparison group 18-25 years old in whom the vaccine was effective. The FDA uses this to make sure that a vaccine can stimulate the immune system, and the Moderna vaccine did that. The effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing illness ranged between 31 to 50% for this 2 dose course. While this is lower than what we saw in adults, this data was collected during when Omicron was circulating.
What is the data on the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine for 6 month to 4-year-olds?
Children in this age group developed an immune response that was similar to a comparison group 16-25 years old in whom the vaccine was effective. The effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing illness was 75% to 82% for this three dose course. While this is a little lower than what we saw in adults, this data was collected during when Omicron was circulating.
Are the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines safe?
The side effects are similar to what are seen in other age ranges. The safety monitoring didn’t identify any cases of myocarditis or pericarditis for either vaccine. Of course, the CDC and FDA will continue monitoring for side effects on an ongoing basis.
Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.