Pfizer shot offers nearly no protection against infection in 5- to 11-year-olds

A new study shows that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is less effective in 5- to 11-year-old children compared to its efficacy in older kids and adults. This new data could be concerning to a lot of parents, especially as we're seeing mask mandates lifted across the country and in the New York area.

New York state health officials collected this large set of data that finds the Pfizer vaccine still prevents hospitalization in children 5 to 11 but offers virtually no protection against infection, even just a month after full immunization. This data, which was collected during the omicron surge, is troubling for so many parents, especially because Pfizer is the only COVID shot authorized for that 5-to-11 age group in the United States. 

Dr. Susannah Hills, a pediatric ENT surgeon with Columbia University Medical Center, recommends that parents still get their kids vaccinated, especially children with pre-existing conditions.

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"This data still shows that the dosing that's been used is safe — so that's the most important thing. The dosing is safe and getting vaccines is safe," she said. "And although the efficacy was significantly lower in kids under 11 for infection in general, it was still effective in keeping kids out of the hospital and in preventing severe, severe illness.

Hills and other health experts believe the drop in the vaccine's performance in young children probably stems from the fact that these kids receive only one-third the dose given to older children and adults. Hills also said this evaluation is normal for new vaccines: collecting data, sharing it publicly, and making adjustments as needed.

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