Key developments in adolescent vaccine research; Registering teens for vaccine

NOW: Key developments in adolescent vaccine research; Registering teens for vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech released clinical trial results Wednesday that suggest children as young as 12 could soon roll up their sleeves for the vaccine.

The phase 3 trial enrolled 2,260 U.S. adolescents aged 12 and 15. The companies found 100% efficacy in the vaccine. Results showed strong antibody responses one month after the second dose, even exceeding earlier data among those aged 16 to 25. 

Pfizer and BioNTech found the common side effects in participants aged 12 to 15 were similar to those aged 16 to 25. The companies plan to submit the data to the FDA in hopes of getting expanded emergency use authorization to start vaccinating the adolescent age group before the start of next school year. 

The announcement comes on the same day Indiana opened vaccine eligibility to Hoosier adults 16 and older.

Teenagers aged 16 or 17 are only able to receive the Pfizer vaccine; while those 18 and older are approved for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. 

Parents or teenagers 16 or 17 must take extra steps during vaccine registration, according to St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox. 

“Parents, if they’re trying to register their 16 or 17-year-olds need to navigate to a Pfizer location,” Fox said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think the system is smart enough as it is set up now to restrict your options.”

The fight against coronavirus needs children because the adult population is not enough to reach herd immunity, according to Fox. Herd immunity is when enough people are immunized so that the virus cannot spread. Roughly 70% of the population needs to be immunized or previously infected and recovered, according to Fox.

“If you already start with the premise that zero to 16-year-olds aren’t eligible at all, that represents…I mean, that’s probably 20% of the population right there,” Fox described. “So that means that the other 80% and these are rough numbers, but the 80% of the population that’s 16 and older, we need 90% of that group to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.”

With more Hoosiers eligible to get vaccinated, there are some tips to keep in mind before and after getting the vaccine when it comes to taking medicine for potential side effects.

“There’s some data that suggests that the anti-inflammatory medicines, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, like Ibuprofen, may blunt the immune response…so it may decrease the antibody production,” Fox said. “And so, there is some literature to suggest that Tylenol or acetaminophen would be a better agent to take, but it should only be in response to symptoms after you get the shot.”

Fox said it is clearly not recommended to take any medicine in anticipation of side effects before getting vaccinated.

It is likely more developments will be made among adolescents and vaccines. Pfizer and BioNTech are working on a two-dose study in three age groups (5-11, 2-5 and 6 months-2 years). Pfizer and BioNTech announced the 5-11 age group started dosing last week, with plans for the companies to start dosing children aged 2 to 5 next week.

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