Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shows 91% efficacy in kids aged 5 to 11—NITAG member

Published January 26, 2022, 3:25 PM

by Analou de Vera

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech has 91 percent efficacy in children aged five to 11 years old, a member of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) said on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

“The vaccine efficacy for the adolescents age group (12 to 17) was 100 percent while for the five to 11 years old was 91 percent,” said Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, who is also the president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) in a media forum hosted by the Department of Health (DOH).

The government is targeting to vaccinate children under this age group starting on Friday, Feb. 4, said Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on Jan. 24.

Only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be used for this age group after it received an emergency use approval for five to 11 years old from the country’s Food and Drug Administration. This vaccine will have a lower concentration and dosage as compared to the vaccines being used for people aged 12 and above.

Bunyi said that the vaccination rollout for kids five to 11 years old will be conducted in a phase manner—starting off among children with comorbidities.

“Kung naalala niyo doon sa 12 to 17 years old, inuna natin bakunahan yung mga may comorbidities or may underlying medical illnesses kasi sapalagay namin ay mas magiging malala sa kanila pag dinapuan sila ng COVID-19. Sa aking palagay, ganoon din ang mangyayari dito sa pag rollout ng five to 11 years old (If you remember, we first vaccinated those with comorbidities or underlying medical illnesses among 12 to 17 years old because we think it will get worse for them if they contracted COVID-19. I believe the same thing will be implemented in the vaccination rollout for five to 11 years old),” said Bunyi.

The common adverse events that the children may experience after getting vaccinated include injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, and fever, said Bunyi as she cited the experience of the United States.

“Most frequently in the five to 11 year old [age group], the adverse reactions were reported after receiving the second dose of the vaccine,” she said.

COVID-19 vaccination: 12 to 17 years old

In a related development, the pediatric expert said that the country has already fully vaccinated half of its eligible population among children aged 12 to 17.

“Almost 6.3 million adolescents have been fully vaccinated,” said Bunyi. This figure was as of Jan. 23, she added.

The government is eyeing to inoculate about 12.7 million children under this age bracket.

Citing data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 2,600 adverse events following immunization (AEFI) were reported. Majority of the reported AEFI were “non-serious,” said Bunyi.

“In the FDA report, 2,640 adverse events have been received. Ninety-four percent were considered or categorized as non-serious and five percent serious. The most common reported reactions were dizziness, injection site pain, pyrexia, headache, and increased blood pressure,” she said.

“There were three cases which were reported as very rare adverse reaction: two cases of myocarditis, and one case of pericarditis—wherein these cases or patients have all recovered from these conditions. To date, causality of these medical illnesses is still being investigated and still need to be established,” she added.

Bunyi reminded the public that “vaccination is a strong arsenal in navigating this pandemic.”

“There may be very rare adverse events that may be associated with vaccines but we always weigh the benefits of giving it over the risk of getting down with disease and its complications which the vaccine can prevent,” she added.