DETROIT – In kids, the first question is simply whether the vaccine is safe, and on that account, the answer is yes.
Although the study wasn’t large enough to detect any infrequent side effects, most of those seen when a low dose Moderna vaccine was given to these young children were in the same range that we see with any other, as pediatric vaccine safety isn’t really the issue. The question is, how effective is it?
Moderna studied a two-dose series of shots that are one-quarter the adult dose in about 6,900 children ages six months through five years old.
According to their data, it was 44% effective at preventing mild symptomatic infection. In children ages two through five, the effectiveness was 37%.
It’s important to know that this was during the omicron surge when vaccine effectiveness, even in adults, was reduced.
But 37% and 44% are below the initial goal of a vaccine that was at least 50% effective.
“That may seem like a low number,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “But in the era of omicron, this is actually quite comparable to the efficacy against infection in what we’re seeing now with other vaccines.”
During the study, they also measured the antibody response to the vaccine, and in that regard, the vaccine performed well.
The antibodies produced were comparable to the response in adults who suggested the vaccine should be just as protective against severe illness.
There were no severe illnesses, hospitalizations, or deaths in either the vaccine group or the placebo group during the study.
The take-home here is that even though the efficacy against mild symptomatic illness wasn’t awesome, the study did meet its primary goal in producing a similar level of neutralizing antibodies in kids as it does in adults.
A separate issue that may have occurred to you is that Moderna doesn’t have authorization for ages six through 17. Yet, the company does plan to supplement its application for the older age group as well.