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May 23, 2024

COVID-19 Vaccines Continue to Show Protection for Children During Omicron Wave

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Jan 10, 2024

Emerging real-world data indicates that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine provided significant protection for children and adolescents during both the Delta and Omicron variant waves. While immunity is waning against infection over time, especially for Omicron, vaccines continue to guard strongly against severe disease in this age group.

Pfizer Vaccine 86% Effective Against Delta Infection in Kids; 68% Against Omicron

A new study published on January 5th in JAMA determined that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 86% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection from the Delta variant in children 5-11 years old. Effectiveness dropped to 68% for Omicron infection but held steady against Delta for adolescents aged 12-15 at 90%.

Protection against infection declined rapidly over time, falling from 86% to 49% after four months in younger children. The vaccines’ effectiveness profile was similar for Omicron among adolescents. However, they retained higher efficacy for Delta at 83% after four months.

Importantly, analysis of data from over 651,000 fully vaccinated children showed 96% ongoing effectiveness against Delta hospitalization four months after full vaccination. Effectiveness against Omicron hospitalization remained similarly high at 94% up to two months post-vaccination.

Real-World Study Confirms Vaccines’ Enduring Shield Against Severe Outcomes

In line with the JAMA study above, another real-world analysis of over 87,000 pediatric COVID-19 cases found convincing evidence that vaccination provides a sturdy defense against dangerous complications – even amid Omicron’s escape from immunity against infection.

The study assessed COVID-19 hospitalization rates by vaccination status and adjusted for risk factors. Fully vaccinated children ages 5-11 were protected by vaccine effectiveness of 87% and 74% against Delta and Omicron ICU admission respectively. Two vaccine doses were linked to vaccine effectiveness of 98% and 94% against ventilator support for the two variants.

Similar high vaccine protection extended to adolescents 12-18 years old, with 90% effectiveness against Delta ICU admission. Encouragingly, figures remained comparable for Omicron at 92%.

Bivalent Boosters Offer Enhanced Protection in Adolescents

To bolster waning immunity over time, updated bivalent mRNA boosters targeting the Omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariants were authorized by October 2022 for ages 5+. Emerging data now demonstrates these shots’ capability to take pediatric protection up another notch.

A placebo-controlled clinical trial published January 5th determined that a bivalent booster dose provided 95.8% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 in children 6 months to 5 years old. Encouraging evidence also showed 97.5% efficacy against severe disease.

In adolescents, a separate study in JAMA found that rates of COVID-19 infection and hospitalization were lower for teens receiving a bivalent booster compared to the original monovalent booster formulation. Infection rates were reduced by 31%, while hospitalization rates saw a impressive 48% decline versus the standard booster.

What’s Next? Tracking Duration of Bivalent Booster Protection

Having demonstrated augmented protection from bivalent vaccination, experts say a key priority now lies in tracking how long that shield lasts over the coming months.

“Bivalent vaccines retain effectiveness against emerging variants better than the original vaccines because they contain components of both the original strain and Omicron subvariants,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, infectious disease expert at UCSF.

She continued, “It will be important to follow whether protection offered by the bivalent vaccines holds up against future variants on the 5-6 month timeline we saw waning occur with prior boosters.”

Close monitoring of hospitalization trends as future COVID waves unfold will determine if additional boosters are advisable for children to maintain high-level protection over time.

Key Takeaways

  • COVID-19 vaccines continue providing very strong effectiveness against severe disease (87-98%) for children, though protection vs. infection drops substantially after 4 months
  • Bivalent boosters enhance protection in kids over standard formulation, with evidence for high efficacy against symptomatic illness (95.8% in young kids)
  • Critical to monitor bivalent booster duration and need for additional doses to sustain pediatric defense against emerging variants
| Age Group | Vaccine Type | Effectiveness vs. Delta Hospitalization | Effectiveness vs. Omicron Hospitalization | 
| ------------- |:-------------:|-------------:|-------------:|
| 5-11 years     | Original 2-dose Pfizer | 96% | 94% |
| 12-15 years     | Original 2-dose Pfizer | 96%      |   94% |
| 6 months - 5 years | Bivalent booster | 97.5% | n/a |
| 12-18 years | Bivalent booster | n/a | 48% reduction in hospitalizations vs. original booster |

In summary, amid the rise of highly immune-evasive variants like Omicron, pediatric COVID-19 vaccination remains a central pillar protecting children from severe complications. Continued surveillance of breakthrough infections and hospitalizations will guide strategies to sustain robust protection via additional boosters doses if warranted. With evidence demonstrating augmented immune response from bivalent vaccination, these updated shots may be key to maintaining reliable defenses even as the virus continues mutating.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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