About vaccination of children aged 5–11 years old


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General vaccination of children aged 5–11 years against COVID-19 will begin in January

At the end of November, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 received a marketing authorisation in Europe for children aged 5–11 years. This age group will receive a different dose than older age groups, one-third of the adult dose. The vaccine is in a multidose vial like the adult vaccine, 10 doses per vial, so the use of the vaccine needs to be well organised. It is advisable to use the children vaccine only for this age group, unless there is a severe deficiency. The Ministry of Health has signed an agreement on this vaccine for the period 2022–2023.

Guardians of children in Iceland will be offered vaccination for 5- to 11-year-old children after the end of the year; the arrangement will be announced in more detail later.

Research and safety of vaccination for children against COVID-19

The manufacturer vaccinated 1,528 children in the main studies for this age group, and the follow-up period was just over 2 months after the second dose for the results that have been published. In addition, a special safety study was performed in which an additional 1,122 children were followed for 2–4 weeks after the second dose. The results of that study have not been made public but were used as a basis for marketing authorisations by the US and European Medicines Agencies. Side effects were similar to those in 12- to 17-year-old adolescents and adults. The most common side effects (especially injection site pain, fatigue and headache) are possibly slightly less common in this age group than in adolescents. Too few children were vaccinated in these studies to be able to state the frequency of rare side effects.

No cases of myocarditis or pericarditis were reported in the pre-marketing studies, but the CDC in the United States has now published the first statement on side effects among 5- to 11-year-olds in that country. As expected, the incidence rate of myocarditis is lower than in 12- to 17-year-olds: up to 2/1,000,000 vaccinations; in 12- to 17-year-olds, the incidence was 9/100,000 vaccinations. This is in line with the fact that the incidence rate of myocarditis and pericarditis in 5- to 11-year-olds for other reasons is much lower than in older children and young adults and that the dosage size of COVID-19 vaccine is thought to potentially affect the likelihood of myocarditis or pericarditis after vaccination. The gender ratio of myocarditis after vaccination at 5–11 years is equal according to this statement, but it is also consistent with the epidemiology of myocarditis of other causes in this age group. It should also be borne in mind that the incidence of myocarditis due to COVID-19 infection is much higher than after vaccination in young adults, but the incidence rate is still unknown in children.

Benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 for children

Children of this age are about 8.7% of the country’s population but have had a larger share than that in infections since August, and up to a third of all infections have been in this age group in some weeks, a total of around 2,200 children from 1 July until week 50, of about 12,500 infections at the same time (17.6%). No children in this age group have had to be hospitalised, but about 80 have become ill enough to be under additional supervision at the COVID outpatient department (yellow status). According to the manufacturer’s studies, vaccination was found to be over 90% effective in preventing infection 7 days to 2.3 months after the second vaccination, with the Delta variant prevailing during the study period. A child who is not infected with COVID-19 does not need to be isolated and does not get serious COVID-19 complications.

The impact on families due to infection in children has also been felt. The isolation of infected children from others in the family has often led to families having to split up. About half of those who have accompanied children in isolation have been infected as a result, and the separation of companions from other family members has lasted even longer. If the household is not divided, infection chains have occurred in families that can last for weeks.

Fewer infections among children in this age group result in fewer infections at school, and then the need for quarantine and disruption of school and leisure activities due to infection is reduced. This reduces the spread of infection in the community and reduces the need for community action to stop the spread. See further in the summary of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

See also the Chief Epidemiologist’s article from 13 December 2021.

Material for children about vaccination against COVID-19

Fyrst birt 27.12.2021

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