Credit…Paul Ratje for The New York Times

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released two studies Thursday that highlighted the importance of immunizing children against the coronavirus.

A study found that serious problems in children aged 5 to 11 who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were extremely rare. The other, who looked at hundreds of pediatric hospitalizations in six cities last summer, found that almost all of the children who became seriously ill had not been fully immunized.

More than eight million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been given to children aged 5 to 11 in the United States so far. But concerns about the unknowns of a new vaccine have made some parents reluctant to allow their children to be vaccinated, including those who have said they would rather wait for the wider rollout to reveal rare problems.

On December 19, about six weeks after the start of the vaccination campaign for children aged 5 to 11, the CDC said it had received very few reports of serious problems. The agency evaluated reports received from physicians and members of the public, as well as responses to surveys from parents or guardians of approximately 43,000 children in this age group.

Many of the children interviewed reported pain at the injection site, fatigue or a headache, especially after the second dose. About 13% of those surveyed reported a fever after the second stroke.

But reports of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that has been linked in rare cases to coronavirus vaccines, have remained rare. The CDC said there were 11 verified reports from doctors, vaccine makers or other members of the public. Of those, seven children had recovered and four were recovering at the time of the report, the CDC said.

The CDC said reporting rates of vaccine-related myocarditis appeared to be highest among boys and men aged 12 to 29.

A number of parents or doctors have also reported cases of children aged 5 to 11 receiving the incorrect and higher dose of vaccine intended for older children and adults. The CDC said these problems were “not unexpected” and that most of those reports mentioned that the children had not encountered any problems afterwards.

The CDC detailed two reports of deaths, in girls aged 5 and 6, who the agency said suffered from chronic health problems and were in “fragile health” before their injections. “Upon initial examination, no data was found that would suggest a causal association between death and vaccination,” the agency said.

The CDC’s separate report on pediatric hospitalizations provided additional evidence on the importance of immunizing all eligible children. The study, which looked at more than 700 children under the age of 18 who were admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 last summer, found that 0.4% of children eligible for vaccines had been fully immunized.

The study also found that two-thirds of all hospitalized children had comorbidity, most often obesity, and that about one-third of children 5 years and older had more than one viral infection.

Overall, nearly a third of the children were so sick that they had to be treated in intensive care units, and almost 15 percent required medical ventilation. Of all those hospitalized, 1.5% of children died, according to the study. The six hospitals were located in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas and Washington, DC

“This study demonstrates that unvaccinated children hospitalized for Covid-19 could suffer from serious illness and reinforces the importance of vaccinating all eligible children to ensure individual protection and protect those who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, ”wrote the study authors. .


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