Lower efficacy keeping some parents from vaccinating their children against COVID-19

Posted at 2:17 PM, Apr 12, 2022

We have reached a point in the pandemic where most people have made the decision about whether to get vaccinated, but data suggests parents are still wavering due to lower-than-normal COVID vaccine efficacy in young children.

Two weeks after getting fully vaccinated, numbers from the Centers for Disease Control show the vaccine is 66% effective at preventing omicron infection in adults, 76% effective in 12-17-year-olds, and 66% effective in 5-11-year-olds.

The real surprise, however, comes when you fast forward another two weeks, and the vaccine’s effectiveness stays the same in adults, drops to 56% in teens, and plummets to 12% in children.

“The efficacy has gone down and that really is relating to the studies with other variants,” said Laura-Anne Cleveland, associate chief nursing officer at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver.

Cleveland says there are two things in play: the more recent COVID variants have mutated around the vaccines to a degree and are, therefore, less efficacious, and the dosage in the FDA-approved child vaccine is about a third of what it is in adults.

“[Manufacturers] are really trying to understand what doses of vaccine is needed for each variant and the side effects you might have,” said Cleveland. “You want both: you want the high enough dose to get the strongest efficacy, and the low enough dose so you won’t have side effects, so it’s that balancing act.”

According to the CDC, after the first 11 weeks of the vaccine becoming available, 51% of adults had gotten one shot and 41% had gotten two, but in kids 5-11 that number is only 28% for the first shot and 19% for the second.

Surveys by PLOS, a nonprofit science publisher, show effectiveness is the second-largest thing parents weigh when deciding whether to get vaccinated.

Despite the lower effectiveness of the vaccine in kids, health officials recommend the vaccine for every age group. However, some have urged manufacturers to reconsider dosing for kids.