OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
New York state officials revealed on Monday that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine did little to protect children aged five to 11 against an infection caused by the Omicron variant of the virus.
A team of researchers from the New York State Department of Health calculated infection rates among minors who had been vaccinated with the Pfizer jab. In the study, children were divided into two groups based on their ages – from five to 11 and from 12 to 17 years old.
In the younger age group, the Pfizer shots were only 12 percent effective at preventing Omicron infection after only one month.
These findings may have a direct effect on vaccinations and whether parents will encourage their children to get vaccinated.
A virus does not pose much risk to children, as hospitalizations and deaths are extremely rare.
These findings suggest that the vaccine does little to prevent them from spreading the virus regardless of the main reason for vaccinating them: to prevent them from spreading the virus.
Children as young as five were required to show proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, fitness facilities, and entertainment venues in cities like New York. In some cases, school activities also required children to be vaccinated.
This may have influenced some parents’ decisions to use the vaccine – as uptake for the shots has been relatively low among younger children – but the state has now released official data showing the vaccine had little effect in protecting the children.
In addition to these concerns, some parents decided to give their children the vaccine regardless of potential side effects, only to later discover it was not as effective as advertised.
‘I think we need to rethink this whole program of vaccinated adolescents and children. What is our objective?’ According to Dr. Cody Meissner, chief of pediatrics at Tufts Children’s Hospital in Boston and board member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee. Meissner has opposed the idea that every child should get vaccinated because the virus poses barely any risk, but the vaccine can have serious side effects like myocarditis.
In the study, researchers collected data from 852,384 children aged between 12 and 17 and 365,502 children aged between five and 11.
Researchers collected data from December 2021 through January 2022, during the Omicron period of the pandemic. The study is a pre-print awaiting peer review.
Following up with study participants and comparing findings with general statistics for unvaccinated populations was part of the study.
There are major differences in the vaccine dosage between the study groups. The vaccine for children aged five to eleven is only ten micrograms, while that of children aged 12 and older is 30 micrograms.
In the younger age group, the effectiveness of the vaccine declined from 67 to 11 percent after 28 to 34 days after receiving the second dose – about one month after receiving the second dose.
A much smaller drop occurred in the older age group, from 66 percent to 51 percent.
In addition, there was a noticeable difference between 11 and 12-year-olds – the cut-off for where vaccine doses change – which means smaller doses are not as effective.
Pfizer has also had similar problems with its dosage in children between the ages of six and four.
The jab has been reduced to three micrograms for that age group, although initial trials showed that the smaller jab did not produce a strong immune response.
According to Meissner, no conclusions can be drawn from this study, but he thinks other states should conduct similar studies to determine if the ineffectiveness of vaccines is a nationwide problem.
There is now a third vaccine in the company’s trial, and submission to the FDA for its approval has been halted while the data is gathered.
However, Pfizer is stuck. Regulatory agencies have even instructed the company to submit a request before the third dose of data is available, as the company wants to offer shots to younger age groups.
Expanding vaccination eligibility to millions of young children would also bring a nice sum of money to the New York-based company.
It has effectively cornered an extremely profitable market because it is the only shot available to young people in the United States.
In the vaccine, mRNA technology poses a problem as well.
To reduce the risk of vaccine recipients developing myocarditis, Pfizer has lowered dosages for younger age groups.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recipients of shots distributed by Pfizer and the company Moderna – which also offers an mRNA vaccine for Covid – are at risk for developing rare heart conditions such as inflammation of the heart. This is a risk that is especially prevalent in young males.
‘The hospitalization rate from Covid infection in unvaccinated children is about the same as hospitalizations … caused by myocarditis in children that do get the vaccine,’ Meissner explained.
‘…we need to make sure that by administering this vaccine that we are not doing more harm than benefit.’