The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory body, the Vaccine and Biologics Advisory Board (VRBPAC), recommended the emergency use of vaccines for children on the 26th local time.
Although the approval process has not yet been finalized, it is highly likely that the advisory body’s recommendations will be accepted.
Therefore, starting next month, children aged 5 to 11 will receive two doses of 10 μg, which is one-third of the adult dose, three weeks apart.
Parents are increasingly curious about the timing and safety of their children’s vaccinations.
Wouldn’t it be advantageous to wait for a child who will turn 12 in a few months and then vaccinate the adult dose? Wouldn’t it be harmful to health if you vaccinate as prescribed because your height and size are smaller than your peers?
The New York Times introduced the views of experts on this question.
The answer from the immunization and infectious disease authorities was that these variables do not have much meaning, so they should vaccinate as soon as possible.
The appropriate dose is determined based on the child’s age, not the height or weight of the child, and delaying vaccination itself is more dangerous.
Donna Faber, a professor of medicine at Columbia University in the US, said, “Just get it right.”
Professor Faber emphasized the urgency of the virus, citing that the virus does not disappear suddenly and that there can be mutations that are more contagious and dangerous.
It is common knowledge that vaccination reduces the risk of infection primarily and greatly reduces the risk of becoming seriously ill or dying if infected.
In the case of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which is about to be approved, it was analyzed that the effectiveness of preventing infection would reach 91% if administered to children as recommended.
Octavio Ramillo, a professor of pediatrics at Ohio State University, emphasized the risk of not being vaccinated, saying that many children easily overcome infection, but who will become seriously ill.
Professor Ramillo said that about 1,000 American children were hospitalized last year with COVID-19, and he explained that half of these seriously ill patients were healthy before infection.
Monica Gandhi, a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, said her son will turn 12 in February next year, but will not wait.
Professor Gandhi said, “There is no problem in inoculating an 11-year-old child because only 10 micrograms is very effective.”
This set of views is convincing when you look at the way the medical community determines the right dose for a vaccine.
Experts explain that medications like Tylenol can be toxic when overdosed, so body weight determines the dosage, but vaccines do not.
This is because vaccine doses are set based on age, not weight, to minimize the risk of side effects.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also states that “there is no weight requirement for the COVID-19 vaccine.”
David Rawlings, director of the Center for Immunotherapy and Immunotherapy at the Seattle Children’s Institute, said the immune system in children is similar in function, large and small.
“The immune system of children aged 5 to 11 is really strong,” Rawlings said.
He explained that the 12-year-old threshold is somewhat arbitrary, but in general, children have a less effective immune system as they grow older than younger children.
This means that 5-11 years of age can produce similar numbers of antibodies, even if the vaccine dose is less than 12-17 years old.
Dr. Lawrings explained that once puberty is reached, children’s immune systems begin to change like adults.
Because of this, in children 12 years of age and older, the dose must be increased to support the vaccine’s effectiveness.
“Based on our research on immune development, immunologically adults are much younger than 18,” Faber explains.
The NYT reported that vaccine dose reductions for children aged 5-11 are associated with side effects rather than vaccine effectiveness.
When the dose was reduced to 10 μg for children aged 5-11, it was found that the high fever and chills after the second vaccination were less than that of adolescents who received the higher dose.