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More than 1 million children have been infected with COVID-19 with more than 8,000 ending up in the hospital.
Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health, said the recent FDA meeting about COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5 to 11 years old revealed a lot of information about how the pandemic has impacted children.
It also shed light on the clinical trials as Pfizer asks for emergency use approval.
Parents are concerned about side effects. Jetelina said the adverse effects included swelling of lymph nodes in a few patients – which also happened in adult clinical trials – and a rash that usually occurs at the injection site.
There were some that were not linked to the vaccine, and many parents can relate. For example, one of the kids ate a penny.
“That’s how meticulous these clinical trials are,” Jetelina said. “They keep on top of everything just to make sure that this vaccine, for example, isn’t causing kids to swallow pennies.”
Many parents worry about myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, which is rare. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that out of 5 million people who received the Pfizer vaccine, only 136 developed myocarditis. None of the children in the clinical study for 5 to 11-year-olds developed myocarditis.
Jetelina also said there’s a greater risk of developing myocarditis from the virus, not the vaccine, and that the rare cases associated with the vaccine are milder.
“Classic myocarditis or myocarditis from COVID-19 is much more severe,” she said. “So we have to weigh those benefits with those risks, and ultimately the vaccine outweighs COVID-19 for kids.”