Ochsner doctors weigh in on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 and up

Kids Getting Vaccinated
Kids Getting Vaccinated
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to approve the use of Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids as young as 12 years old.

This comes just days after the FDA announced it approved Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s request to allow their vaccines to be given to children on an emergency basis. The vaccine is already authorized for use in people 16 and older. It will be administered in adolescents in two doses, three weeks apart, the same regimen for those 16 and older, according to the FDA.

Wednesday morning, Ochsner Health held a Zoom meeting with media to discuss their findings from it’s Pfizer vaccine clinical trial in children 12-15.

“The most common side effect in kids was the arm pain and swelling,” Dr. Katherine Baumgarten, Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention, said. “There was reported fever and some chills, some fatigue and headache. All of those are common side effects as children mounted a response to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

“There is 100% efficacy, much better than what we are seeing in adults,” Dr. Julia Garcia-Diaz, director of Clinical Infectious Diseases Research and Infectious Disease Specialist, said. “The antibody levels in children were much higher than the adults. There are also questions of whether children will require a booster shots. There are currently trials in adults talking about a third shot. There is none in the children so there is no indication for that in the present.”

Ochsner Health also released the following:

  • We are currently waiting for approval from the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) who is scheduled to meet later today (Wednesday 5/12).
  • Following CDC approval, we anticipate the state of Louisiana will adopt the CDC and FDA guidance later this week. Once that happens we plan to open scheduling shortly after and we encourage community members to visit for updates on scheduling.
  • The results of Pfizer’s trial in the 12 to 15-year-old age group show the vaccine was safe and 100% effective against COVID-19. Ochsner Health and Ochsner Hospital for Children’s contributions to the adolescent Pfizer vaccine trial (ages 12-17) have helped illustrate their safety to the FDA. Locally, we had approx. 80 participants in this trial.
  • The availability of the vaccine to this larger age group is another positive step in moving our state and our country toward herd immunity. You should get the vaccine available to you once you are eligible to receive it. It is important to have this discussion with your pediatrician to determine if this the best decision for your child.

As for what’s next, Ochsner Health says they will soon begin clinical trials for the Pfizer vaccine in children as young as six months.

Following the CDC’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12, the Louisiana Department of Health announced they will be holding a technical briefing at 4 p.m. to discuss the federal process and decision, guidance LDH expects to issue to providers tomorrow, and what this means for adolescents, families and Louisiana.

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