Pfizer for UAE kids: Additional shield of protection, say doctors

Variants of Covid-19 pose a new risk of an increase in the number of children with infections

Photo: File
Photo: File

Saman Haziq

Published: Mon 1 Nov 2021, 5:15 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 Nov 2021, 5:42 PM

The UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention had announced the emergency use of Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday night for those in the age group of 5-11 years.

Doctors across the country are now lauding the decision.

Up until now the only vaccine that had been approved for young children was the Sinopharm vaccine which was approved for kids in the age group 3-17, while Pfizer shots were available to children above 12.

According to MoHAP, the results of clinical studies indicated that the Pfizer-BioNtech Covid shots proved safe and gave a strong immune response to children between the age of 5 and 11 years.

Talking about the importance of availability of Pfizer vaccine for kids, Dr Vishal Rajmal Mehta, specialist pediatrician, RAK Hospital, said, “For a year, children have missed being in school physically. New variants of the Covid-19 virus pose a new risk of an increase in the number of children with infections.

"Covid-19 vaccination in children will be a very useful additional protection along with face mask, distancing, and other mitigating measures to ensure our children can get back to schools more safely.”

He added that vaccinating children against the virus will help in reducing infection, decrease the severity of infections and lessen hospitalisation.

“It will protect not only children but prevent the spread of infection to others, parents, and grandparents at home,” he said.

Advising people not to worry about the side effects, Dr Mehta said, “Side effects of vaccines such as fever, body pain, swelling, or pain at the injection spot are mostly mild and subside within a day or two. From experience we have learned that vaccines for children are very effective in preventing childhood infections.”

Explaining the results of the trials of the Pfizer vaccine, Dr Vishal Rajmal Mehta said, “Pfizer had announced that in its phase 2/3 study conducted on 2,268 children in the age group 5 to 11. Kids received a 10 microgram (µg) dose level in a two-dose regimen. In the trial, the SARS-CoV-2–neutralising antibody demonstrated a strong immune response in these children one month after the second dose.

"This compares well with participants in the age group 16 to 25 years old, used as the control group for this analysis, and who were administered a two-dose regimen of 30 µg. Further, the Covid-19 vaccine was well tolerated, with side effects generally comparable to those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age."

Dr Jyothish George, Director vaccination and homecare services specialist dermatologist at Prime Healthcare Group said since the past year, millions of people from across the world, who are 12 years and older, have received the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and it has proven to be safe and effective for them.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found out that the benefits of jabbing children between five and 11 years with the Pfizer vaccine outweighed any other health risks. It then issued emergency approval for Pfizer to be given to children in that age range, with two shots three weeks apart.

"Data from the company's clinical trials found that a paediatric dose of the vaccine - one-third of that given to adults and adolescents - was safe and 90 per cent effective,” he said.

Emphasising on getting kids vaccinated, Dr George said, "Though Covid usually impacts children less severely than adults, it can still lead to significant long-term effects on them. Sometimes, even develop deadly complications like multi-system inflammatory syndrome. Having your child vaccinated will help prevent infections and spread of Covid -19 as pediatric cases are rising in certain countries."

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