Children with underlying health conditions have only mild or moderate side effects from the Pfizer Covid vaccine that disappear within days, a study shows.
A small study of 27 high-risk 12- to 15-year-olds in the UK who received a double shot with Pfizer found that only one had severe fatigue, discomfort and agitation, while the rest had mild symptoms.
Covid itself is a mild illness for the vast majority of children, and many show no symptoms at all.
But young people with underlying health conditions are at greater risk of serious illness, so children ages 12 to 15 who are clinically frail or live with adults who have been invited to get vaccinated.
Children with neurological conditions — such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy — accounted for 11 percent of children hospitalized with Covid and 26 percent of those with serious and fatal illness.
It comes amid a debate over whether Covid shots should be rolled out to all over 12s, especially as the return of schools is expected to lead to an increase in infections.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the UK’s medicines watchdog, has approved Pfizer and Moderna injections for all over 12s.
And NHS England has been told to prepare to give the age-group vaccines in the coming weeks.
But the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI), which advises the government on the rollout, has only approved Covid shots in people over 16.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the UK’s medicines watchdog, has approved Pfizer and Moderna injections for all over 12s. In the study of 27 children in the UK, they all received the Pfizer vaccine
Parents reported that their children experienced arm soreness, general discomfort, fever and fatigue after the first and second dose, but most of these side effects were mild
To understand the side effects of the Pfizer shot in vulnerable children, researchers at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children asked the parents of 27 young people to record any side effects their children experienced following vaccination.
The participating youths all suffered from neurological conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, in addition to medical conditions such as epilepsy and immune deficiency.
Three of the participants were in the hospital during the study, 16 were boys, and 21 were white.
What were the most common side effects in vulnerable 12- to 15-year-olds?
Of the 27 Covid at-risk children who received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, six parents reported side effects that fit into four categories.
Reported Side Effects After a First Dose of Pfizer
Reported Adverse Reactions After a Second Dose of Pfizer
Parents of six children reported side effects after the first dose that were ‘mild to moderate’ and resolved within three days.
These include a mild skin rash, headache, diarrhea, sore throat, neck pain, difficulty sleeping and low blood sugar.
There was one exception, with one child experiencing severe fatigue and discomfort, combined with increased agitation.
One family reported a change in seizure type, but this resolved a week after the vaccine.
Five of the children had diarrhea, vomiting, swelling of the armpit and blisters around the mouth after the second dose.
Fever was more common than in adult studies: 13 percent of children had a temperature higher than 38°C, compared with 4 percent in people between the ages of 16 and 55.
Other recorded side effects all resolved within a week, the study noted.
The researchers said: ‘The numbers were small, but these data are especially important because they are representative of the children most likely to benefit from vaccination, and parents and clinicians may be concerned about an increased risk of unexpected events.’
Russell Viner, Professor of Adolescent Health at University College London, said: ‘These data are generally reassuring that the Pfizer Covid vaccine causes few side effects in a group with severe disabilities and very high medical needs, although one child experienced severe fatigue and discomfort. had. and another had a brief change in attack type.
This should reassure parents and doctors that there are no special precautions or problems with this vaccine in this small group of children.
“However, these data can tell us very little about rare side effects or about vaccinating healthy teens or people with common conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
‘For that we have to wait for further data on the order of millions of doses.
“No cases of myocarditis have been reported, but US reports suggest it occurs in about 1 in 15,000 second vaccine doses in young men, so these data on 27 cases may not be informative about myocarditis.”
“In addition, nearly 40 percent of teens had heart failure and this may have obscured any problems.”