More than 2,000 children ages 12-15 years old signed up for a COVID vaccine, joining Pfizer-BioNtech’s clinical trial in January.
Of those phase three clinical trial participants, 18 caught COVID-19 and all of them received the placebo. That means it was 100% effective among those who received the vaccine.
“I’m really not surprised that the vaccines were safe, but it’s just so exciting to hear that they’re really highly effective in that age group,” said Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu, associate professor at Yale medicine.
He was involved in the adult trials and is working on the younger study at Yale. About 20 children from Connecticut are enrolled.
“Overall, our experience was that the kids were very enthusiastic to participate in the study. They tolerated it well,” said Ogbuagu.
The companies plan to submit the adolescent data for expansion of its current emergency use authorization. Approval could come by June.
Dr. Tom Murray of the Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital says the vaccines would be helpful among a group of young people who are involved in work, school and other activities.
“For our 16-year-olds which starts tomorrow, and additionally for our 12- to 15-year-olds, those are typically children that are out and about in unsupervised activities, they’re very social,” said Murray. “The 16- and 17-year-olds are often working. So, these are individuals who, without vaccinations, have the opportunity to be infected and spread disease because of a lot of social interaction.”
“The predominant variant in Connecticut right now is the B117 that is identified as originating from the United Kingdom, and the vaccines are highly effective against that variant,” said Murray.
Experts say the impact of COVID on young people goes from multi system inflammatory syndrome to the metal health issues caused by school closures and canceled activities. Dr. Ogbuagu says this study offers hope.
“And so having a vaccine that’s effective in that group starts to raise new possibilities, even acting more confident that we can reopen schools in the fall safely, for children that have been vaccinated.”