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The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved for use in children aged 5 to 11. But a study has revealed that the vaccine is significantly less effective in preventing the coronavirus infection in kids, than in older adolescents or adults.
The study, led by The New York State Department of Health, found that during the recent Omicron surge, while two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was protective against severe disease in children aged 5 to 11, its effectiveness declined rapidly.
The efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to prevent infection among children in the age group declined from 68 per cent in mid-December to 12 per cent at the end of January, according to the study, which has not yet been peer reviewed.
For those aged 12 to 17 years, the vaccine efficacy fell to 51 per cent in late January from 66 per cent in mid-December.
The vaccine efficacy against hospitalisation also declined from 85 per cent to 73 per cent among adolescents, and from 100 per cent to 48 per cent for the younger age group.
The researchers think the difference in effectiveness may be due to "lower vaccine dose". While children 12-17 years are given two 30g doses, children 5-11 years receive two 10-microgram doses of the vaccine.
Eli S. Rosenberg, from University at Albany School of Public Health, State University of New York, noted that their findings highlight the potential need to study alternative vaccine dosing for children and "the continued importance of layered protections, including mask wearing, to prevent infection and transmission."
Meanwhile, Pfizer is studying a three-dose schedule of the vaccine in the pediatric population. Studies in adults have shown that those vaccinated with three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine may have a higher degree of protection, the company noted.
In the US, a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster is recommended for everyone ages 12 years and older, at least 5 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series. For adults 18 years and older, a booster dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna is recommended.
With inputs from agencies
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